Ferry operators have dismissed at least half of their staff – Marine Authority Director

Ferry operators have dismissed at least half of their workforce due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on their operations, the Marine and Water Bureau (DSAMA) Director, Susana Wong, has indicated according to TDM TV.

Ferry connections between Macau and Hong Kong have basically been non-existent since February 2020 with only some ferry connections between mainland cities and the Macau SAR gradually restarted.

“As far as I know, they use ways that are in compliance with the Labour Law to cut down staff members who are not in core positions or technical personnel, such as those in the marketing department,” Wong noted,

The DSAMA Director also noted that most of the ferry operators’ fleet has been kept at port in order to reduce maintenance expenses, underlining that even if normal travel is resumed between Hong Kong and Macau, sea-crossing services will only see a slow increase as most people will resort to the HZMB.

“We do not believe it is possible to resume marine sailings to the original frequency all at once,” Wong added.

Chief executive Ho Iat Seng already indicate that in order to remove quarantine requirements for Hong Kong arrivals, the neighbouring SAR would have to complete 14 consecutive days without new Covid-19 cases

Pansy Ho, the Managing Director of Shun Tak Group, which holds ferry company TurboJet indicated in the group’s 2020 annual report that its transportation division has long been challenged by a multitude of factors for an extended period, including a shift in travel patterns with the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau (HZM)
Bridge in 2018 and sociopolitical unrest in Hong Kong.

Nonetheless, none was said to have been so detrimental as the full-year
suspension of ferry services which resulted from maritime border closure under the
Covid-19 pandemic.

“Although we have adopted stringent cost control measures, substantial overhead and maintenance costs necessitated a more profound transformation program to help us protect the future of the company,’ Pansy stated.

‘These include rightsizing the business, as well as pivoting the division’s capacity to
better cater to the paradigm changes in regional travel patterns’.

In July 2020, Shun Tak – China Travel Shipping Investments Limited became a 50/50 owned company between the group headed by Pansy Ho and China Travel International Investment Hong Kong Limited, further integrating its ferry and cross-border coach bus businesses setting for recovery in a ‘different market post-COVID’.

Meanwhile. gaming operator Sands China, which owns Cotai Water Jet, noted the same impact generated by the pandemic on its ferry operations.

The company’s 10-year license granted by the Macao government was renewed on November 8, 2019, with Sands indicating on its annual report that the timing and manner in which the company’s normal ferry operations will be able to resume are ‘currently unknown’.