Ponte Ferries’ new ferry service between Malta and the Sicilian port of Augusta hit another snag over the weekend after an inspection by the Italian authorities revealed problems with its documentation, preventing the operator from departing for Malta in what would have been its first voyage on the return route, says the Times of Malta.
The newspaper cites a source who said that the ferry’s documentation related to crew certifications and employment conditions was in line with the Maritime Labour Convention, leading Augusta port authorities to detain the vessel over the weekend, forcing it to cancel a trip in either direction, leaving passengers stranded.
The service has been plagued with issues since its launch in August 2021, first cancelling its operations last summer due to issues with berthing permits at Augusta. Despite an initial attempt by Ponte to pin the blame on Virtu Ferries, which has a long-running service between Malta and Pozzallo, to the south of Augusta, further investigation showed that its paperwork was not in order.
After a temporary permit allowed the company to restart operations in mid-November, the service was cancelled once again at the beginning of 2022 for mandatory drydocking of the vessel for routine checks, the company said.
With the service finally resuming for good, the latest problem with its crew’s documentation will no doubt be seen as a headache for Ponte’s management, which now hopes to meet no further hiccups.
A Ponte Ferries spokesperson confirmed the issue with Times of Malta, but assured clients that the ferry, the HSC Artemis, is “now fully operational and running according to its schedule”.
The service, which departs Malta from the Wine Wharf quay in Valletta, is operating on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during May and June, although the itinerary is flexible to cater for those wishing to bridge public holidys.
As from 1st July, the service will increase to a daily one.
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