By
Sarah Thomas

A
BLOCKADE at Calais by French fishermen has severely impacted on peak pre-
Christmas trade, according to an
operator on the route.

P&O Ferries said it had
cancelled nine departures but sailed four ships into French waters to allow
passengers to take advantage of duty-free prices.

A spokesman estimated the company
carried around 80% less of its normal passenger numbers during the current peak
period – characterised by pre-Christmas day trippers. He added retailers in
Calais would have lost out on trade, while coach trippers would have lost a
potential half-day’s travelling.

The company said its trade partners
were notified as soon as it was aware of the industrial action yesterday.
Customers have been offered the chance to rebook or receive a refund.

The action, due to run until 4.30pm
today, comes ahead of a meeting over EU fishing quotas to be held next week.

P&O Ferries operates 35 daily return trips on the
Dover-Calais route on seven ships, carrying 10 million passengers annually.