Ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) has announced temporary changes to several timetables to cope with Covid-related staff absences.
CalMac ferries, for passengers and freight, serve Scotland’s islands across the north and west.
A CalMac spokesperson said the increasing number of crew on vessels and staff in ports either testing positive, self-isolating or waiting for PCR test results has meant that CalMac is unable to operate to full capacity.
Since Christmas Eve, when there were 35 staff off due to Covid-19, absences have increased by 166% to 93 on Monday.
The latest figures show that 93 crew and 18 port staff are unavailable because of Covid.
This equates to a Covid absence rate of 9% among vessel crews and 5% among port staff and is in addition to a non-coronavirus absence rate of 6%.
CalMac managing director Robbie Drummond said: “Over the past week the number of Covid-related absences amongst vessel crew has increased by 166%, from 35 on Christmas Eve to 93 on Monday.
“Covid absences amongst port staff have risen by one third over the same period.
“The loss of such large numbers of staff makes it necessary for us to take immediate action to try and preserve essential services to communities.
“We fully appreciate the difficulties these changes will cause for some of our customers, and we apologise for any disruption that may result.
“However, because this situation is changing rapidly, we must protect core services, which is why we are now having to introduce this temporary timetable.”
All services, irrespective of timetable or service change, are subject to change, cancellation or interruption at very short notice.
The firm said: “Our ports of Stornoway, Ullapool, Uig, Lochmaddy, Lochboisdale, Castlebay, Armadale, Mallaig, Coll, Tiree, Ardrossan and Brodick will be operating reduced hours focused on sailing times.”