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Lusa - Business News - Portugal: Ferry service between Algarve, Andalusia suspended 'due to pandemic'




Vila Real de Santo António, Portugal, Oct.28,2020-Ferry services between Vila Real de Santo António in Portugal's Algarve region and Ayamonte across the River Guadiana in Spain - the most southerly river crossing between the two countries - is to be suspended from next Tuesday until December, according to a manager at the Portuguese company involved.
Francisco Santos of Empresa de Transportes do Rio Guadiana, the local company operating services near the mouth of the river along with its Spanish counterpart, told Lusa that a decision by the latter to stop operating due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic had come when the Portuguese ferry is at a shipyard for maintenance and the renewal of an expired licence so as to restart operations.
"When one of the boats has to go to the yard for repairs and for renewal of the licence, the other kept the service running, but the Spanish company decided to stop operating because there is little movement and it does not pay to maintain the service," he said.
The service had already been suspended between March and July, when the border between Spain and Portugal were closed during the first wave of the epidemic; this time the decision to stop "a tradition of more than eighty years", as Santos noted, has been taken by the Spanish company.
The Ayamonte-based boat had been supposed to continue offering the service until the one in Vila Real de Santo António had been repaired and licensing completed, but instead has decided to suspend it from 3 November.
"The service should only resume in mid-December", said Santos, indicating that by that time the Portuguese boat should be ready. His company had, despite "losses of eighty percent", "made a huge effort to maintain jobs, even with the loss of revenue - sometimes only four people are transported" and "not leave workers in difficulties at a time of crisis," but "the Spaniards do not have that problem because [it is] the company's partners [that] operate the vessel."
Once the ferry link is suspended, the only active link between the Algarve and Spain's Andalusia province is the bridge over the Guadiana between Castro Marim, about 5km north of Vila Real de Santo António, and Ayamonte.
Lusa sought comment from Empresa de Transporte Fluvial del Guadiana S.L., the company responsible for the operation of the ferry on the Spanish side, but without success.
However, the suspension of the service from 3 November was announced by Ayamonte council on social media, where it said that it had been informed by the company that, in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was having to "suspend links ... only for a short period of time, until the health situation is stabilised".
The borders between the two countries remain open but in Spain a state of emergency has been declared under which an overnight curfew has been imposed along with other restrictions on people's movements. In Portugal a state of public calamity is in place, with no such restrictions at place except over the coming weekend.

MHC/ARO // RAO.
Lusa


Agency : LUSA

Date : 2020-10-29 09:47:00







 

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