Ponte Ferries has again insisted that it was a last-minute legal contest against its use of the Augusta port by a “competing local operator” that forced it to delay the launch of its ferry service from Malta to Sicily, which was due to kick off on Friday (today).
It first made the claim on Thursday when it announced that it would be postponing the launch thanks to a legal challenge by a competing operator of the route which was unnamed, but widely assumed to be referring to the only current operator of a Malta to Sicily ferry route – Virtu Ferries.
In response, Virtu issued a scathing rebuke, denying it launched a legal challenge and accusing Ponte of irresponsibility in their accepting of bookings for a route before they gained the necessary approval to operate it.
“Ponte Ferries have once again had to delay their ferry service, no doubt causing their clients much angst. This time they are seeking to conceal from their responsibility by seeking to shift the blame on Virtu Ferries, alleging that we have made a last-minute legal challenge,” a statement released in the evening read.
“Virtu Ferries made no such, or indeed any other, challenge.”
Providing an update to said customers along with the renewal of its accusations, Ponte said it is continuing to offer them assistance.
Customers wishing to proceed with their holiday plans are being booked onto flights to Catania, while those who preferred to delay their trip are being fully refunded and in addition, are being offered a voucher to use the service for free over the next 12 months, the company said.
Ponte staff have been on hand at both Malta International Airport and Catania airport to assist customers during the check-in process, it added.
Additionally, a spokesperson commented: “We cannot apologise enough to our customers for this unexpected turn of events. We understand their disappointment and are working round the clock to assist them. We have already ensured that a significant number did not miss out on their planned holidays and will continue to do so in the coming days.
“Meanwhile, we remain more determined than ever to ensure customers are offered a choice of operators on the Malta-Sicily ferry route and hope to resolve this situation in the shortest possible time.”
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