Red Funnel, the original Isle of Wight Ferry company, is to reduce employee headcount in the wake of the impact of COVID-19.

A review of the company resourcing will see a reduction of an estimated 38 roles.

Up to 50 roles across its head office, support and operational functions will be placed at risk, while 12 new roles will be created to ensure the company is in the strongest position to move forward. This decision follows a prolonged downturn in passenger and vehicle crossings over the peak summer period as a direct result of COVID-19.

Chief Executive Officer, Fran Collins, said: “It is our priority to protect as many jobs as possible while ensuring our vital travel link is in a strong position to continue delivering high levels of customer services and that we continue to support the Island as we have done for the last 160 years.

“Adapting to seasonal differences in operating timetables is something we’re used to doing but it’s clear that COVID-19 has had a far bigger and more sustained impact than we anticipated. While the easing of travel restrictions has seen a recent increase in demand, the effects of the pandemic will continue to impact travel patterns for the foreseeable future.

“Our people are the absolute heart of our business and my Red Funnel colleagues are among some of the most dedicated that I’ve worked with in my career, and that makes this message incredibly difficult to deliver.

“This is a situation we have tried very hard to avoid, but we are committed to serving the Isle of Wight as we support our colleagues through this very difficult time.”

“We are fully committed to serving the Isle of Wight community and maintaining our day-to-day operations. This process will not affect our published timetables or frequency of service and will not affect our ongoing commitment to staff and passenger safety.”

Red Funnel currently employs 508 staff members working in a number of roles critical to supporting the vital link between the Isle of Wight and Southampton.