‘We will survive the pandemic and look forward to normality’

THREE crew members on the Commodore Goodwill who tested positive for Covid-19 last week are said to be recovering well – and safety protocols across Condor’s fleet have been stepped up.

The three crew members on the Commodore Goodwill who tested positive for Covid-19 are recovering well, according to Condor CEO Paul Luxon. A fourth who was suspected of being infected has tested negative. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29100347)
The three crew members on the Commodore Goodwill who tested positive for Covid-19 are recovering well, according to Condor CEO Paul Luxon. A fourth who was suspected of being infected has tested negative. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29100347)

Over the weekend, the entire crew of the freight ship was rotated as an added precaution.

A fourth person, who was showing cold symptoms and was suspected of having coronavirus, gave a negative test result.

The ferry company has been working hard to ensure that manning levels do not fall and thereby risk the security of the supply chain.

Some 98% of everything the island consumes and uses has to be imported and around 80% of that comes in on the Condor boats.

Paul Luxon, the company’s chief executive officer, said maintaining the link was a top priority.

‘At Condor we’re conscious of our responsibilities for the sea connectivity ferry services, so that’s what we’ve tasked ourselves with since 26 March when we sat down to create our crisis management plan, and we continue to do so, working with the authorities and Public Health as best we can.’

The three affected members of staff are all Europeans who live on board the ship, so the infection must have been brought on-board either by an accompanied freight driver or a contractor doing maintenance.

Both the Goodwill and the Clipper are now freight only and there are rigid controls on board so that crew members do not come into close contact with the local stevedores.

On Friday lunchtime, the States announced a ban on non-essential travel.

It had been widely anticipated and Mr Luxon said it would not have much impact because passenger numbers were tiny anyway.

‘I think it would be impossible to adversely impact our passenger numbers because we operated at something like a 96%-plus reduction in 2020 versus the normal year, and the numbers since December, when France went into lockdown and the UK went into lockdown, and then the significant deteriorating situation over Christmas and the New Year and the beginning of this month, has meant that frankly the appetite of people to travel, those for whom it was a discretionary choice, has become less attractive because of all the inherent risks and difficulties.’

Airlines and ferries have been among the worst-hit businesses during the pandemic, but Mr Luxon sounded positive about the long-term future.

‘We’ve not been concentrating too much on worrying about the current passenger numbers because we realise it’s simply impossible, our plan is to be ready with a recovery to bring all of the passengers back as soon as the public health restrictions lift.

‘So we’ve got a recovery plan for when those green shoots start appearing, but right now it’s a case of keeping the ships safe, keeping the crew safe, keeping passengers and freight clients safe, and trying to make sure we protect that vital supply line six days a week for both ships to bring the islands what they need.

‘Yes, it’s had a massive impact on Condor operationally and financially, but we continue to work hard to manage that situation and we will sustain ourselves through it and we will survive it and look forward to getting back to some sort of normality once the vaccination programme starts biting in positively.’

. The scheduled Goodwill sailing due to arrive yesterday morning was cancelled.

She was due in from Portsmouth again at 3am today.

‘Precautions no barrier to new car imports’

CONDOR’S safety policies should not inhibit the delivery of goods and essentials.

Due to the rising cases of Covid-19 infections in the UK, both conventional vessels have become freight only and a new sterile working environment adopted for freight will involve no contact with any person on board or at Guernsey, Jersey, Portsmouth and St Malo ports.

In a story in yesterday’s Guernsey Press about the impacts of the UK lockdown on new vehicle importations it was claimed that the regulations could pose a barrier to deliveries to the island.

Condor Ferries chief executive officer Paul Luxon dismissed the claim as an incorrect conjecture.

‘The new safety policies we’ve introduced are to keep people and the island safe, but will have no impact or barriers in the movement of goods, cargo or freight,’ he said.

Rather, supply chain issues in other jurisdictions may impact on Channel Island shipping.

‘Our policies don’t impact at all on the six days a week, twice-daily shipping supply chain.’

Vehicles are usually delivered by transporter to Portsmouth, where they are disinfected before being loaded onto the ship.

Drivers do not travel with the vehicles, to ensure a sterile environment and reduce transmission risk.

Therefore UK vehicle dealership staff would not require a Covid test prior to delivery, meaning delays are not expected resulting from the new measures.

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