New Marine Atlantic ferry delayed further, crossing rerouted until at least July 10

The first voyage of the Ala'suinu ferry has been pushed back at least another week, as repair crews continue to clean debris from the fuel and lubrication system.

Marine Atlantic says all bookings for the North Sydney-Argentia run up to July 10 are being cancelled and rebooked on other boats to Port aux Basques. That will land passengers in Newfoundland, but 850 kilometres from their intended destination.

The new vessel was supposed to be in service in mid-June, but has been pushed back three times. It will still need to go through sea trials once the repairs are finished.

In a statement sent Friday, Marine Atlantic CEO Murray Hupman apologized for the persistent problems.

"We recognize the frustration of our customers and appreciate their ongoing patience during this difficult and challenging period," Hupman said.

In a joint statement, the Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism Minister Steve Crocker and Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador blasted the delay as a "completely unacceptable" setback to operators, and a significant inconvenience to travellers.

"We are deeply concerned about the damage this has done to our reputation as a tourism destination," the statement said.

Marine Atlantic said international experts have been called in to rectify the situation but keep discovering new complications while they work.

"As technicians clear a section of line, they discover more debris, which impacts the anticipated schedule of completion. This has been an ongoing challenge over the past three weeks," reads the company's statement.

Marine Atlantic has added additional crossings for its three operational vessels — the Blue Puttees, Highlanders and Leif Ericson — to help clear the load created by Ala'suinu's delay.

Ala'suinu is owned by Swedish company Stena, which built the ferry in China. Marine Atlantic is leasing the vessel for five years, after which it will determine whether it wants to purchase the ferry.

Marine Atlantic has previously said the issues with the fuel and lubrication lines is covered by warranty.

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