Beleaguered ferry operator SeaFrance has been told that it will be allowed to continue operating until the end of January next year, even though it is bankrupt. The European Commission has told the French government that its bail out offer of 200 million euros is not legal. The Tribunal de Commerce has also rejected a takeover bid by rival operators DFDS. The firm has offered £5 million.
The CFDT union has also placed an offer for the company, but has been refused. The court said that it would be looking into any offers which are made before 12 December. If a solution is not found, then SeaFrance will cease to trade on 29 January 2012.
Currently, there are four SeaFrance ferries operating between Dover and Calais. Around 1,650 people are employed by the company which transports some 3.5 million people between the continent and the UK every year.
A spokeswoman said that SeaFrance was happy with the decision made by the Tribunal de Commerce, as it meant the company could continue transporting passengers until at least 28 January. She said that this would also give the firm some time to work out the best solution to its problem.
On its website, the firm said that it was sorry for any inconvenience caused by the recent cancellation of services. Ferries will set sail again after necessary safety checks have been made. DFDS has said that it accepts the decision made by the courts and will consider how best to move forward.