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CalMac services remain affected by covid absence

The current rapid spread of covid continues to affect CalMac with more than 20% of staff now absent.

This is more than twice as many of the frontline staff who were absent on Hogmanay. Also affected are people working in our ports and in customer care.

The increasing number of crew on vessels and staff in ports either testing positive, self-isolating or waiting for PCR test results has meant that CalMac is unable to operate to full capacity at the current time.

The essential services timetable introduced on 3 January to cope with covid-related staff absence is helping to focus resources on maintaining lifeline routes, but disruption is likely to continue for some time.

The latest figures show that 151 crew and 35 port staff are currently unavailable because of covid. This equates to a covid absence rate of 14% amongst all staff and is in addition to a non-coronavirus absence rate of 6%.

Maritime law sets out a legal requirement that ferries must not operate without a minimum number of crew on board. Positive cases on a vessel means that replacement crew must be sourced, which may result in sailings being cancelled if they cannot be found in time.

Robbie Drummond, CalMac Managing Director, said: "The absence of so much of our frontline staff is placing immense pressure on our ability to maintain a normal service. We are now focusing as much of our resources as possible on keeping essential deliveries going to our communities.

"There is a possibility that your sailing may be disrupted or cancelled, so please check the status before you start your journey to a port. As this situation is constantly developing, cancellations may also take place at very short notice.

"Help to protect passengers and crew by wearing a face covering in port offices and inside ferries, and please do not travel if you have tested positive and are still within the self-isolation period, even if you feel better."

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