State support for the Birkenhead to Belfast ferry may encounter a legal challenge from freight-only maritime operators.
In April it was announced that the UK Government and Northern Ireland Executive were jointly funding a £17m support package to ensure that a number of routes carrying food and medical supplies between the UK and NI would continue.
Freight and passenger volumes have been falling since the crisis began, and there was a concern about the financial viability of routes between the British mainland and Northern Ireland. The supported routes include the twice-daily Stena Line service from the Twelve Quays terminal in Birkenhead to Belfast.
The scheme should begin next month, but the Sunday Times has reported that unnamed sea freight operators were preparing a legal challenge against the scheme, believing it to be an illegal state subsidy.