Ferrying people home to families for Christmas

Chimichanga at Port Solent. Picture: Malcolm Wells

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Thousands of people hoping to get home for Christmas have turned to Portsmouth Ferry Port, after snow hit airports across the UK.

Crowds have flocked to the port after flights to Europe and the Channel Islands from Heathrow and Gatwick were cancelled or delayed almost indefinitely due to snow-covered runways.

Reports from the airports have shown people sleeping on waiting area floors while hoping their flights will be rescheduled, but many have decided to travel south to Portsmouth, to take advantage of the city's fully-operational port.

Its manager Phil Gadd said: 'We're delighted we can help get passengers home for Christmas thanks to our know-how, planning and hard graft. Despite heavy snow, freezing conditions across the UK, airports being closed and travel problems on the roads, we are operating as normal.'

Teams on board ferries and at the port have responded to increased demand, helping people find services they need even if they haven't booked in advance.

One company, Condor Ferries, which travels to the Channel Islands, has handed more than 1,000 people a lifeline, and says it can take anyone still looking for a way to reach their loved ones for Christmas.

Its ferry Commodore Clipper has been taking people to and from the islands continually since the snow hit.

Condor Ferries' managing director Simon Edsall said: 'This demonstrates the resilience of our fleet and our excellent teamwork. As well as helping reunite friends and families, we're making sure food and medical supplies reach the Islands too.'

Routes to and from France and Spain have also seen increased numbers, as England-based students and employees turned to the seas to be home in time for Christmas.

People needing to travel can book last-minute online, or at the Ferry Port.