THIRTY per cent of Red Funnel staff are currently self-isolating, and 51 jobs are still to be recruited, the ferry operator has announced.

The company has made the announcement in the wake of further cancellations across its East Cowes to Southampton service, affecting at least today, Wednesday and Thursday.

Fran Collins, chief executive of Red Funnel, wanted to get the message out to customers about the staffing difficulties the company is currently facing.

She said: "We recognise that recent disruptions to our service have contributed to delays and cancellations, affecting the community in East Cowes. We sincerely apologise to both passengers and the local community.

"Red Funnel provides an essential service for many Islanders, and we want to ensure we are open and transparent with our communications to both our customers and the Island community.

"We would like to address the challenges we are currently facing and update you on what action we are taking to provide our customers and the local community with an efficient and reliable service.

"A number of factors are contributing to current service delays. The increase in popularity of staycations this year has resulted in our service becoming busier than normal.

"During these busy periods, the current Island Road works have put additional pressure on traffic in the area, amplified by the ongoing impact of Covid-19.

"Despite higher levels than normal of recruitment, currently 30 per cent of our staff are unable to work, with many team members being contacted by the NHS Track and Trace system or self-isolating.

"Lower numbers of shoreside staff can make loading and unloading a slower process. On board our ferries, we are required by law to have a certain number of critical roles to ensure the safety of passengers.

"There is also a minimum staff to passenger ratio required by law, meaning if we are unable to fully staff a sailing, we are unable to accept the maximum number of passengers on board.

"As we prepare for the coming weeks, with restrictions lifting and high volumes of passengers anticipated to be travelling, we are working closely with the Isle of Wight Council on a traffic management plan.

"This includes increased communication to advise passengers not to arrive at the terminal more than 30 minutes prior to departure during busy times to avoid further congestion on the roads.

"We will also continue to use our text and email notification system to update passengers who have already booked with us.

"The tourism and hospitality industry has been hit hard by the pandemic and as an industry we are working hard to address the staff shortage.

"We are continuing to increase our seasonal recruitment, taking on more seasonal team members than we did in 2019. We currently have 51 roles available across the business both in Southampton and on the Island, from customer advisors and services assistants to deck hands and deck mates.

"Joining the Red Funnel team entitles our people to some brilliant benefits, including free foot travel and subsidised vehicle travel on our ferries, 75 per cent off South West Trains travel and a range of offers and savings on household names.

"There are a range of fixed term and permanent roles, full and part time, seasonal and throughout the year. For anyone interested in joining the team, contact

"We will continue to keep the community updated as we work hard to improve the essential service we know residents rely on during these challenging times, minimising our effect on the Island infrastructure."