The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications has announced that the Port of Tallinn will service domestic ferry routes between the mainland and the two largest Estonian islands for the next decade.
The head of the procurement commission, Jaak Kaabel, said the Port of Tallinn made a cheaper bid than the current operator Väinamere Liinid, who was the only other qualified tenderer. It also offered newer ferries.
The ministry hopes to sign the contract with the Port of Tallinn in the near future. The state-owned company will get around 200 million euros in subsidies over 10 years. That is nearly 60 million less than asked in the competitor's bid.
The Port of Tallinn has told the ministry that it will be able to procure four new ferries by October 1, 2016. The new vessels will have the option of using gas as a fuel in the future built into them. They will be able to operate all year without the need for towing or help from ice-breaking ships. Every ship has room for at least 150 cars or 10 road trains, and 600 passengers.
The Port of Tallinn said that their aim is to take the quality of the ferry service to a new level.
The chairman of the Port of Tallinn's management board, Ain Kaljurand, said that the contract fulfills the financial objectives and ensures that the company will earn the usual amount of profit from the investment.
"For the Port of Tallinn this is a new, additional line of business," he said. "The whole company will contribute to the successful running of the service and the necessary preparations."
The purchase agreements for the four new ferries will be signed either this week or the next. Agreements will be signed with two shipbuilding companies for two ferries each.
The former Minister of Regional Affairs, Siim-Valmar Kiisler of IRL, said that the Port of Tallinn is a good choice as it helps to save money.
"IRL has always held that the current service provider has used different schemes to artificially inflate the prices," he said, noting that in principle, Minister of Economic Affairs Urve Palo is carrying out the plan that Juhan Parts, the former minister, drew up.
"It included the procurement of new ferries through the Port of Tallinn and the reduction of prices. We hope that the Port of Tallinn will succeed in buying the ferries and breaking the monopoly," which is held by Vjatšeslav Leedo, the owner of Väinamere Liinid. "Today's decision must have also been strongly influenced by the pressure exerted by the public and the opposition," Kiisler said.