Tallink: No layoffs but looking at early vacation options

Tallink board member Piret Mürk-Dubout.
Tallink board member Piret Mürk-Dubout. Source: ERR

Shipping line Tallink has seen a significant drop in passenger numbers in recent weeks as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, even ahead of the emergency situation declared by the government Thursday night.

The decline has also affected hotels run by Tallink Group in Tallinn and Riga, though no layoffs are on the table yet, the company says.

"We have contacted trade unions in Finland, Estonia and Latvia," Tallink Group board member Piret Mürk-Dubout said Friday.

"Naturally we are in constant conact with our employees. We are considering a wide variety of measures to review work schedules, since demand has fallen so much," she said.

Mürk-Dubout noted that one solution currently being looked at was getting employees to take vacation time while the slump continues.

"The closest thing (to that) we're doing right now is to review employee vacation schedules and to bring them forward to the earliest possible period," she went on.

"We will notify our employees and trade unions when the next steps come," she continued.

At the same time, the entire workforce cannot be on vacation at the same time, she added.

Mürk-Dubout said it is now important to ensure essential passenger transport, and the movement of goods, to prevent any panic and for stores to continue to be stocked.

"We get a lot of calls saying that: 'I need to travel, my family on this or that side of the bay (i.e. the Gulf of Finland -ed.). At present, we are making sure that passenger and transport service is still going," she said.

The route is still running according to its original timetable, however, Mürk-Dubout said.

"All departures are on schedule and tickets are available for all trips. Passenger traffic and freight will continue and must be guaranteed," said Mürk-Dubout.

However allow for the questionnaires which are likely to be introduced in ports as they already have done on the land borders, it is reported, which take some time to fill-in and ask travelers among other questions where they have traveled from and recently been.

Tallink ship crews have received all the necessary guidance and training Mürk-Dubout added.

"We have taken action on board ships. We are trying to avoid very large crowds at the catering establishments at one time, and we are introducing different catering options on shifts," Mürk-Dubout said, adding that the same approach applied to leisure facilities on board shop.

The impact of the restrictions and coronavirus fears on Tallink's economic performance cannot be fully stated yet, Mürk-Dubout went on, but it is clear that both the tourism and the transportation and logistics sectors are currently suffering.

"We are calculating the impact, but the situation is changing almost every day. We cannot put a figure on the exact number yet, so when our next economic report comes in the next quarter, we can talk about these issues as well," he said.

As reported on ERR News, Tallink has stopped selling return tickets to cruises which run between Tallinn and Stockholm. The vessels themselves are still running, but only one-way tickets can be purchased each time. The changes have not affected freight vessels.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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