Stena Line’s Irish Sea Central Corridor high-speed link between Holyhead and Dun Laoghaire is switching to seasonal operation, with no sailings after the HSS 1500 catamaran Stena Explorer finished advertised 2011 sailings on 15 September, until a still-to-be confirmed 2012 start-up date in May.

Michael McGrath, Stena’s Irish Sea area director, blamed high operating costs of the 1,500-passenger/375-car Stena Explorer, adding: ‘Despite all our attempts to reduce operating costs over the last few years, it has not been possible to return the route to profitability. We regret that this decision will have an impact among our ship’s personnel and port operations staff in Dun Laoghaire, but this is a decision that has to be taken for the benefit of the overall business.’

Some 53 staff are affected, with Stena starting a period of consultation with personnel and unions early in September. As Stena Explorer lays up, there will be no attempt to provide the last winter’s service using the 81m Incat Stena Lynx III.

As a result of Stena Voyager’s impending withdrawal from the Belfast-Stranraer route after a switch to a new Scottish base at Old House Point, Cairnryan, and the introduction of Superfast VII and Superfast VIII from 22 November, there will be no HSS craft in British waters for the first time since Stena Explorer entered service in 1996.

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