tp-leif-ericson-marine-atla

Marine Atlantic is shaking up its ferry schedule this summer in anticipation of seeing less commercial traffic. The Crown corporation says it has seen a significant drop in commercial traffic in the past few months, and advance bookings are also down. (CBC)

Marine Atlantic has cut the number of ferry crossings to and from Newfoundland and Labrador this summer, due to lower commercial traffic.

The Crown corporation has already announced that it is cutting two crossings a week between Port aux Basques and North Sydney, Nova Scotia. The service between Argentia and North Sydney will not change.  

Spokesperson Darrell Mercer said bookings are down because ferries are facing competition for travel dollars.

"People's value of time is changing, they'd rather fly than have a driving holiday because of the price of gas ... and if you hop on an airplane you can be somewhere fairly quick, versus a driving vacation," Mercer said. 

The ferry dedicated to truck traffic, the MV Leif Ericson, will be on standby this summer and used only when there is enough demand. 

Mercer said the corporation has seen a 10 per cent drop in commercial traffic compared to 2013. 

"When you take that amount of traffic out of our sailing schedule, it frees up a lot of space. And we'd be sailing vessels with half loads, for example, versus full loads. And every time we sail, we're spending between $15,000 and $20,000 on fuel for a one-way crossing."  

Mercer said a drop in housing construction means fewer loads of building materials are coming into the province. He added rate increases may have also caused changes in travel plans.