Brittany Ferries has withdrawn some of its fleet and made changes to its sailing schedule as a result of the coronavirus.

The moves, in place until at least April 9, have been made to ensure sufficient crew are available to operate as many services as possible, the company said.

Its ship Étretat is to be withdrawn from service following its arrival into Le Havre on Tuesday, March 17. It currently offers a daily service out of Portsmouth.

In addition, Pont-Aven will not return to service on March 17 as planned. It was scheduled to serve Portsmouth, Santander, Plymouth, Roscoff and Cork.

The ferry operator’s Kerry service between Rosslare and Bilbao  will now only take freight, with the last passenger service leaving Bilbao on Sunday, March 15.

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Its freight-only service Pelican, linking Bilbao in Spain with Poole in the UK, will take only unaccompanied trailers, without any drivers.

All passengers with existing reservations will be offered a full refund. Where possible, alternative arrangements will be made on to other services.

Chief executive Christophe Mathieu said: “On behalf of everyone in the company, I would like to apologise for the significant disruption this will cause to many customers. However, under the extraordinary circumstances of the current crisis, we have no option but to take decisive action now to respond to the challenges we face. We thank everyone for their understanding at this difficult time.”

The ferry company said its usual response times could be slower as a result of its customer relations team being much busier than normal.