Ferry company stops Portimão-Madeira service

The ferry link between Portimão and Madeira by the ship Volcan de Tijarafe has been scrapped by Spanish operating company, Naviera Armas, after three years.

The service, which ended on January 30, means it will no longer be possible to travel to and from the island by sea from the Portuguese mainland.

The decision is another blow to the economic future of Madeira, whose woes have been widely publicised.

It was recently reported that Portugal will lend the semi-autonomous island €1.5 billion to help it repay mounting debts.

The main reason for the decision, according to Naviera Armas, is a major increase in operating rates charged by the port authorities in Funchal, charges that the company says are much higher than the equivalent neighbouring island rates.

Javier Garcia from Naviera Armas stated that the importance of this regular link was not recognised by the authorities and the higher rates had forced the company to close this route.

PSD Social Democratic Party said in a statement that the local council in Portimão could have done more to protect this source of income and expressed concerns about how this would further affect the economy in Portimão.

Meanwhile the parliamentary leader of the Partido Socialista Madeira (Madeira Socialist Party) has put forward an official application to parliament for an inquiry into the reasons for the Spanish company’s decision.

António Pina from the Algarve Tourism Board said: “We deeply regret the closing of the route to Madeira but we realise that the current economic crisis may have caused this situation. We hope that the service may soon reopen.”

In the last year, the Portimão to Funchal route carried 22,000 passengers and around 4,500 cars.

There are no direct links for air travel from Faro to Madeira, only via Lisbon and Porto.

Naviera Armas will still continue the ferries in-between other islands in the archipelago of Madeira.

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