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TRAVEL NEWS

LATEST: P&O Ferries cancels services between France and UK and fires 800 staff

P&O Ferries - the largest cross-Channel ferry company - has fired 800 staff, saying that the company is 'not viable in its current state'.

LATEST: P&O Ferries cancels services between France and UK and fires 800 staff
Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

P&O ferries announced on Thursday morning that all of its sailings would be halted ahead of a “major announcement”.

The announcement came later on Thursday and was that 800 seafaring staff had been fired with immediate effect.

The company said that no services will operate “in the next few days” and advised people who had already booked crossings to use other services.

Passengers who have crossings booked on the Dover/Calais route are advised on the P&O website to turn up at the port as planned and head to the check-in for rival firm DFDS.

The company says: “We will arrange to get you away on an alternative carrier as soon as possible” – although it’s not clear whether this will incur an extra charge.

A statement from the company read: “P&O Ferries plays a critical role in keeping trade flowing, supply chains moving, and connecting families and friends across the North and Irish seas and the English Channel. We have been at the heart of this service for years and we are committed to serving these vital routes.

“However, in its current state, P&O Ferries is not a viable business.

“We have made a £100m loss year on year, which has been covered by our parent DP World. This is not sustainable. Our survival is dependent on making swift and significant changes now. Without these changes there is no future for P&O Ferries.

“These circumstances have resulted in a very difficult but necessary decision, which was only taken after seriously considering all the available options. As part of the process we are starting today, we are providing 800 seafarers with immediate severance notices and will be compensating them for this lack of advance notice with enhanced compensation packages.

“In making this tough decision, we are securing the future viability of our business which employs an additional 2,200 people and supports billions in trade in and out of the UK. And we are ensuring that we can continue serving our customers in a way that they have demanded from us for many years.”

The announcement refers to 800 British staff, with French press reporting that P&O employees in France were not affected by the job losses.

Like many transport firms, P&O has been hard-hit by the pandemic, and was forced to run greatly reduced services for large parts of 2020 and 2021.

Even once lockdowns were lifted, restrictive travel conditions imposed by both France and the UK have had a major impact on cross-Channel trips. 

P&O operates services between France and the UK, as well as Scotland, Ireland and the Netherlands. 

We will update this story when more information becomes available.

Member comments

  1. This is a fantastic lesson in how not to do things…these strongarm tactics may still work in places like Dubai but have no place in modern UK or Europe…had there been a genuine need to reduce staffing that could have been done incrementally over a period of months and that would have avoided this disruption, bad PR and loss of confidence in this operator.

    I do suspect the fallout was calculated and there may be a deliberate move on the part of the parent company to sink P&O entirely, this being seeing as a quick way to do so…

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TOURISM

What to know when visiting France’s lavender fields this summer

Known affectionately as 'blue gold,' France’s lavender fields are a popular tourist attraction every year. Here is what you need to know about visiting them:

What to know when visiting France's lavender fields this summer

Lavender is the “soul of Provence,” the French region where the fields can be found. Like wine, lavender was brought to France around 2,000 years ago by the Romans. The flower is the emblem of ‘Haute Provence’ regional identity, though the fields stretch from just outside of Nice almost all the way up to Valence, and they are not fully exclusive to France.

Even the washerwomen, those whose job it was to clean clothes and linen, were referred to as les lavandières in France. 

The flowers, which can be found mainly in two species in Provence, have several uses – as oils for cooking and bathing, as a perfume for soaps, and even as an antiseptic for healing wounds and scars.

The lavender essential oil that comes from Provence is even an AOP (L’Appellation d’origine protégée) in France. 

When is the best time to see the fields?

Typically, the lavender flowers from around mid-June to early-to-mid August. However, depending on the weather, especially if there is a drought or hotter temperatures, the lavender might flower sooner than normal, which is likely the case for this year.

This is unfortunately also a side effect of climate change, which might be pushing up the lavender flowering season.

Where should I go?

The Valensole plateau is perhaps the most famous place to go for lavender fields. Speckled with several small Provencal towns, the area is beautiful, with a mountainous backdrop in the distance. If you go here, you might also be able to see the sunflower fields too.

Sault is perhaps a bit less known, partially because due to its altitude, the lavender typically flowers a bit later.

It is still a great place to go see the fields, and every year the town hosts a Lavender Festival in August. Walking (or cycling) between the villages (Aurel, Saint-Trinit and Saint-Christol) is very manageable.

This is not too far from the Sénanque Abbey, a medieval 12th century abbey which is surrounded by lavender fields. You might notice some small stone houses called bories in the fields, which were historically used for field workers.

Luberon Valley is another location that comes highly recommended. In the area, there is a regional national park, home to rosé wines, castles (chateaux) and charming villages, like Gordes, a stunning hilltop village.

Here you can also find the Musée de la Lavande, if you are looking to learn more about harvesting, producing and distilling lavender, its industry, and some interesting regional history.

How to get there?

You can take a TGV train to Aix-en-Provence or Avignon, or rent a car. With a car, you can also enjoy the several scenic routes that allow you to see the fields from the roads.

What else is there to do while in the region?

The area is also known for its rosé wine, so you could take the opportunity to go visit some vineyards or spend some time wine-tasting. 

In the summer months, the south of France can get quite warm. If you are looking to go swimming or enjoy the water, the Gorges du Verdon are not too far away. Though a bit of a tourist hotspot, the canyon is a beautiful and a wonderful place for paddling along in a canoe.

If you’re a fan of hiking, you can always go for a (light) hike along the Ochre Trail near Roussillon. Here, there are two marked paths that will take you through sunset-colored red and yellow cliffs in an old quarry.

Words of Wisdom

Unless you have been given express permission, do not pick the lavender, as this is the farmer’s livelihood. You can always buy a bouquet from nearby souvenir shops for your photo shoots! 

Also, stick to the paths that exist to avoid trampling any crops, and of course do not litter in the fields. 

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