Color Line Lays-off 500 Employees as it Suspends Passenger Service

Color Line suspends passenger service and announces lay-offs
The Color Magic is being laid up due to travel restrictions - photo courtesy of Color Line

Published Jan 6, 2021 2:12 PM by The Maritime Executive

Color Line, which operates luxury passenger ferries crossing the North Sea as well as cargo ships, announced that it is suspending passenger operations and laying off additional employees. 

Citing new government restrictions that limit passenger movement as part of the strict infection control measures, Color Line suspended passenger cruises between Norway and Germany. “Color Line has therefore decided to discontinue MS Color Magic between Oslo and Kiel until further notice.”

Color Line had removed its second passenger ship, the Color Fantasy, from operation as of November 2020, after the previous round of travel restrictions were announced in Norway and Germany. The line had continued to operate its cruise service from Oslo, but passengers were not permitted to go ashore in Germany instead required to make a round trip to Norway. 

The line’s cargo operations will, however, be continuing. The ro-ro Color Carrier will continue to operate between Oslo and Kiel for the transportation of goods. Cargo service between Kristiansand, Larvik, and Hirtshals, also continues aboard the line’s two ferries, SuperSpeed 1 and 2.

Noting the decline in the company’s revenues and costs of maintaining the two passenger ferries in lay-up, CEO Trond Kleivdal said, “Therefore, Color Line, unfortunately, finds itself forced to announce further layoffs of close to 500 employees.” He noted that this would be in addition to the around 1,000 who have already been laid off. The company initially laid off 600 employees and added a further 400 when the Color Fantasy was removed from service in November. The Norwegian media speculated that due to restructuring the company might permanently eliminate at least 300 positions. 

Color Line’s reduction in force efforts follows similar moves taken by other Scandinavian ferry operators. Norway’s Fjord Line cut approximately 300 positions last fall as it struggled with the financial impact of the virus. Reports also estimated that Sweden’s Stena Group reduced its workforce by 1,200 people during 2020.

CEO Kleivdal noted that Color Line was having a constructive dialogue with relevant unions for employees at sea and the business on the land. “The redundancies may be revoked at short notice,” he said, “when the authorities allow passenger traffic to return between Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany.”