Fullers360 has cancelled four sailings to and from Waiheke Island, leaving some passengers waiting in the Auckland drizzle and heat for an hour-and-a-half.
Queues for the ferry snaked all the way from the ferry building, down Quay St and back to the Viaduct.
Some would-be ferry passengers were dressed in formal wear and all were standing in 25 degree muggy Auckland heat.
A Fullers360 phone app alert says the cancelled sailings were due to “operational requirements”.
Lee Dewerson waited in line for over an hour-and-a-half with three children and friends from the United Kingdom.
In the past he said he had always taken visitors across to Waiheke Island as one of Auckland’s top attractions.
“I wouldn’t do this again.”
Half the day had been lost in queueing and the ferry trip, Dewerson said.
Staff handed out small cups of water, “two sips”, while they had been queueing , but there had been no explanation for the delays, he said.
“It’s a joke… As soon as we get over there, we may as well stay at the terminal and queue up to come back.”
Asked if he knew what “operational requirements” meant, Dewerson said he had no idea.
He expected Fullers would have scheduled more boats on a long weekend, especially given roads in the region had been closed, making Waiheke an even more attractive option, he said.
He would like to see tickets discounted as a form of apology.
Adam and Jessy Lane were planning to head to the island and stay at an AirBnB for the weekend, but had not expected the wait to be as long as it was.
“We thought there’d be a bit of a crowd, because of the holiday, but this is nuts,” Adam said.
They had been waiting for 45 minutes and expected to have to wait for at least another hour given the queues, he said.
Stuff contacted Fullers360 chief executive Mike Horne to ask how Fullers cancellations could affect tourism on the island. Horne referred Stuff to a media spokesperson.
In a statement Fullers360 chief operations officer Paul Trotman said staff had phoned in sick and that meant they did not have enough people to crew vessels.
“Our ability to provide more services is not because we do not have enough boats, but because we are currently experiencing an industry-wide skills shortage.”
The company was 60 skilled marine crew short and would launch a recruitment campaign, increase pay and invest in training, Trotman said.
“We are doing the best with the people we have, and we’re incredibly proud of our front-line teams for their continued hard work over our peak season.
“We thank the Waiheke community for the continued understanding and patience while transport and tourism providers manage the skills shortage.”
But he said there would not be discounted tickets.
Last month Fullers came under fire after 10 return ferry trips between Devonport and Auckland were cancelled.
Fullers said at the time that there were various breakdowns on five ferries.
– This story was first published on [Stuff https://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/300799500/fury-at-the-ferry-building-auckland-passengers-wait-an-hourandahalf-in-the-heat]
Story Credit: rnz.co.nz