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24th April 2020 - Press Release

PORT WELCOMES CRITICAL COVID-19 SUPPLY CHAIN PACKAGE



The Government has recognised the vital work of Dover's port and ferry operators in keeping essential supplies flowing across Great Britain during the COVID-19 crisis with a support package to maintain core ferry freight flows. Read the Port of Dover's open letter from Chief Executive Doug Bannister

OPEN LETTER FROM THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE…

Since we entered this national emergency, the Port of Dover and the ferry operators have worked round the clock to keep the essential goods flowing into the UK to support critical services like our NHS, to keep supermarkets stocked and to ensure businesses have the components they need.

We have continued to maintain 24/7 ferry operations for our supply chains, which comes at considerable cost during these times of severely reduced overall business volumes. The port, largely a fixed cost business, must maintain full operational capacity whether we process 5 lorries, or 5,000 in a day. As long as our ferries keep running 24/7, so we must to keep the goods flowing.

This is because we know people up and down the country are still counting on us for those essential goods, their food, their medicines, the resources they need to get through this pandemic and we are determined to carry on.

We are channelling all of our efforts and resource into this whilst we have seen our ferry tourist business virtually disappear and our cruise business go on lay-by for the foreseeable future.  When faced with such a downturn in business, a rational commercial enterprise would reduce operations to cut costs. However, this would be contrary to our mission of maintaining the UK’s primary supply chain – and it comes at a significant cost.

The announcement today by the Secretary of State for Transport, The Rt. Hon. Grant Shapps MP, is very welcome indeed, although of course we still await further information on the detail of the support on offer. To date we have been unable to access any of the announced government programmes for our freight ferry business whilst keeping our facilities open and operational. Recognising the national importance of our ferry services via Dover by implementing such a support package should give the nation high confidence that we will endure, and emerge, from this crisis.

The dedication and professionalism of everyone in the Port of Dover community means we will keep our supply chains open and fully operational for as long as possible, and with this support package our ferry operators will be able to continue to provide capacity with confidence. Of course for the Port this is welcome, however we have continuing challenges in our other business sectors and critical infrastructure investment funding requirements that will also need to be addressed.

In the meantime, for the primary supply chain between the UK and Europe, for the people up and down the nation, we will use this government support to good effect to keep the supply chains flowing via Port of Dover.

Doug Bannister

CEO

ENDS

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