P&O Ferries has paused services ahead of what it called a “company announcement” later today.
With speculation it is in financial trouble, officials sought to calm the waters by insisting the ferry operator was not going into liquidation.
However, all ferries had been instructed to stay in port.
Union RMT urged the firm to protect jobs amid speculation that hundreds of crewmembers could “be sacked and replaced with foreign labour”.
P&O Ferries has the financial backing of Dubai-based DP World, which bought the ferry company for £322 million in 2019.
It is one of the leading ferry companies in the UK, carrying more than ten million passengers a year before the pandemic and about 15 per cent of all freight cargo in and out of the UK.
However, like many transport operators it saw demand slump in 2020, forcing it to announce 1,110 job cuts after failing to secure a £150 million bailout from the government.
Regretfully, P&O Ferries services are unable to run for the next few hours. Our Port Teams will guide you and travel will be arranged via an alternative operator.
We apologise for the inconvenience this will have on your journey plans.
— P&O Ferries (@POferries) March 17, 2022
P&O services scheduled today include 14 between Dover and Calais, three between Liverpool and Dublin and seven between Larne in County Antrim and Cairnryan in Dumfries and Galloway.
A P&O Ferries spokesperson said: “P&O Ferries is not going into liquidation.
“We have asked all ships to come alongside, in preparation for a company announcement.
“Until then, services from P&O will not be running and we are advising travellers of alternative arrangements.”