Why the DFDS ferry from the Tyne to Amsterdam sailed every day through covid lockdown - and will continue despite the Netherlands being on the amber list
It’s a familiar sight on South Tyneside’s horizon, and wasn’t one that went away despite the world being turned upside down by the covid pandemic.
People living near the coast and those visiting the seafront for their daily exercise could still see the DFDS ferry from the Tyne to Amsterdam passing between the piers every day, even though overseas travel was banned.
Travel outside the UK was permitted again after May 17, but the Netherlands remains on the amber list of countries people are asked not to visit except for essential reasons, with quarantine compulsory on return.
This has left some perplexed as to why the service kept running – or, at least, how it was financially sustainable.
So, we asked DFDS, and the company has now come back with an answer.
It confirmed up to 40 passengers on essential journeys were still travelling on each service – far short of the 600,000 it usually carries in a year, which would work out at 16,438 on average each day.
But while we might associate the service more with mini-breaks to Amsterdam and other foreign holidays, the Danish international shipping and logistics company said its services from the Tyne has been one of a number of essential shipping routes keeping goods flowing in and out of the UK
Up to a quarter of DFDS’ turnover is actually attributed to carrying freight to and from Europe.
Teun-Wim Leene, route director for DFDS, said: “Freight has always generated approximately 20 to 25% of the total route turnover and this share has remained stable during the pandemic.
"Transporting freight has enabled the route to be fully operational because we have only been able to carry on average 30-40 passengers per sailing due to the restricted travel measures in the wake of Covid-19.”
While the reduction in passenger travel will undoubtedly have meant a dent in DFDS’ profits, the North East will also greatly benefit from things getting back to normal.
DFDS said has been operating services from Tyneside to Amsterdam for 26 years. In that time, the company has transported more than 10million passengers with an average of carrying 600,000 passengers a year.
The company said bringing international visitors to the North East has contributed to the £5billion value of tourism for the local economy.