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Coromandel ferry service remains on hold for summer

Tough operating conditions in the wake of severe weather events and the challenges of managing an industry-wide shortage of skilled maritime workers have affected Fullers360’s ability to reinstate the Coromandel ferry service for the summer.

“This year has been a challenging one, as we continue to manage the industry-wide shortage of skilled maritime workers, and to mitigate the impacts across the ferry services we deliver. We’ve implemented a range of solutions including an accelerated focus on training and development while we bolster our workforce,” says Fullers360 CEO, Mike Horne.

“Despite our ongoing dedication to build up to a full crew, in the short term we are 12 crews short of a fully crewed workforce. Given the current crewing constraints, the Coromandel ferry service will remain on hold despite our eagerness to get this service back up and running.”

Mr Horne says the Coromandel ferry service remains a priority for Fullers360 to re-introduce when operational conditions allow. “Coromandel town is a treasured destination for Fullers360, and one we have been sailing to for more than 20 years. We’ll be factoring this route into our future business decision making.”

The impacts of the maritime skills shortage have been felt across the industry, with ferry services affected across the transport network, including destinations in the Hauraki Gulf. 

Mr Horne says Fullers360 has been focused on solutions to address the shortfall of maritime workers in New Zealand, including international recruitment, which has been supported by the changes to immigration settings that Fullers360 called for. While international recruitment is ongoing, this process has a long lead time, and the company is focusing on accelerating training and development.

“Training and development are crucial for us to progress our people and provides opportunities for Fullers360 crew to progress their qualifications. Since January 2023, 90 per cent of our crew have gained qualifications on the path towards becoming either a skipper or deckhand, equating to over 550 signoffs in total. Accelerating the training and pace at which our people gain qualifications will help us to reach a full workforce as quickly as possible,” says Mr Horne.

“While it’s disappointing news for our businesses and tourism as we move into recovery mode, we do appreciate that Fullers360 are committed to returning to the Coromandel,” adds our Mayor Len Salt.

“We’re continuing to push for ongoing support for business recovery needs as we meet with relevant Ministers, along with national and regional agencies.

“We’re also working closely with our Destination Management Organisation, Destination Hauraki Coromandel, to ensure that our district remains in the spotlight as a great place to live and visit.”