Supply Chain Council of European Union |

Stena Line cancels Irish Sea sailings due to post-Brexit freight trade slump and travel bans

Stena Line has cancelled a dozen Irish Sea sailings as post-Brexit demand slumps and passenger numbers falling due to travel restrictions.

The ferry firm has reported a 70% drop in freight trade on routes between Wales and Ireland compared with similar periods in previous years.

This is partly due to stockpiling prior to the end of the post-Brexit transition period as well as additional direct services between Ireland and the rest of the EU.

But now there are also widespread issues with retailers not being prepared for the new arrangements.

Concerns about congestion at ports has not materialised but a source said instead goods are simply not leaving warehouses as paperwork is not in place.

Stena said that in light of the dramatic cut in freight and also fewer passengers due to travel rules in Ireland and UK they have cancelled 12 sailings over the weekend.

This includes four trips between Holyhead and Dublin and eight sailings between Fishguard and Rosslare.

They hope this is a temporary move but it will depend on whether demand bounces back.

Paul Grant, Trade Director Irish Sea, said: “Stena Line are currently reviewing sailings and schedules on Irish Sea routes, as a result of Irish travel restrictions and the decline in freight volumes during the first week of Brexit.

“Problems in the supply chain have resulted in a significant fall in freight numbers this week at our Holyhead and Fishguard ports. 

“Our business model is predominantly based on the freight and passenger combination – to have the two parts restricted at the same time is putting pressure on our ability to maintain the normal level of frequency on certain routes.

“Volumes remain light as we move towards the weekend and we will reduce some sailings on a temporary basis. Capacity can be reinstated quickly as demand picks up, in the meantime we need to be efficient in how we manage our schedules.”

ITV today reported Debenhams has been forced to close its online business in Ireland. Customers were informed that it is no longer possible for Debenhams to deliver orders to the Republic of Ireland “due to uncertainty around post-Brexit trade rules”.

They added that at least 50 major UK retailers, including Marks and Spencer and Tesco, are in the process of going through their products lines, to establish how many of them will be now subject to tariffs from the EU.


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Under the terms of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, trade in goods between the UK and the EU remains tariff-free.

But it has since become clear that goods which are imported into the UK and then exported on to the EU are, in many cases, not tariff-exempt because they don’t originate in the EU or the UK.

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