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West coast ferry operator CalMac has welcomed the Transport Minister’s decision to bring additional support to the network.
Freight vessel MV Arrow has join CalMac on a short-term charter and will remain in place until September 7.
The vessel will be operated as a freight service by Seatruck on behalf of CalMac, providing additional capacity and resilience to the Ullapool/Stornoway route. This will also allow MV Loch Seaforth to provide extra sailings to support Covid recovery at this crucial time when physical distancing rules remain in place.
The vessel will deliver MV Loch Seaforth’s evening freight sailing six days a week and MV Loch Seaforth will deliver two additional passenger sailings per week.
The charter includes a break clause, meaning MV Arrow can be called back with 24 hours’ notice. In the event MV Arrow is called back, the additional sailings will be cancelled and MV Loch Seaforth will provide the freight sailing. Due to physical distancing, capacity is constrained, and bookings on additional passenger sailings will be impacted if these sailings are cancelled. However, CalMac’s customer services will seek to accommodate displaced passengers where possible.
Robert Morrison, operations director for CalMac, said: ‘We have been working closely with Transport Scotland to investigate the feasibility of leasing extra vessels, and the addition of the MV Arrow is extremely welcome.
‘The chartering of the MV Arrow will help provide much-needed resilience at a time when Covid restrictions remain in place and there is high demand for spaces on board our ferries.’