Fears that the drop in passenger traffic had rendered several sea routes into the UK uneconomic for cargo carrying have led the UK government to sign agreements with six operators to provide up to £35m in support ensure enough freight capacity exists to maintain a smooth flow of goods.
They will be designated Public Service Obligation routes, for a period of up to nine weeks.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said that “by taking this action, we have helped protect the movement of goods and services in and out of the UK, safeguarding the flow of supplies across the Union”.
The six companies are Brittany Ferries, DFDS, Eurotunnel, P&O, Seatruck and Stena.
The UK said that the move would help protect 16 of the most important routes covering sea areas around Great Britain.The routes protected are Portsmouth-Santander, Portsmouth-Cherbourg, Poole-Bilbao, Dover-Dunkerque, Dover-Calais, Folkestone-Coquelles, Cairnryan-Larne, Tilbury-Zeebrugge, Teesport-Europoort, Hull-Europoort, Hull-Zeebrugge, Heysham-Warrenpoint, Rotterdam-Killingholme, Cairnryan-Belfast, Harwich-Rotterdam and Harwich-Hoek van Holland.