CalMac has been overwhelmed by more than 5000 calls in a single day in relation to trip cancellations.

In what was one of the company’s busiest phone days ever staff at the west coast ferry operator spoke with thousands of customers asking for refunds.

CalMac’s head of customer services, Alan Hood said: “Our staff are currently focused on protecting services for those who live on the islands, but have essential travel to and from the mainland, and for lifeline businesses and suppliers who urgently need make these crossings.

“I understand customer concerns about their travel plans, but being inundated with calls is making it very difficult to deal with urgent and essential situations.”

The impact of coronavirus means that the customer service centres are understaffed and combined with unprecedented call volumes people are being advised to go online to get their refund instead of phoning the call centre.

Hood added: “Customers looking to cancel a booking and receive a refund can do so through our website, and are urged to use this method.”

CalMac recently announced a much-reduced service and cancelled all bookings up until July 16 leading to swarms of people seeking recompense.

People are being discouraged from travelling to the islands unless absolutely necessary.

The ferry services in operation are for island residents and those with essential business on an island only.