Tallink Grupp subsidiary Tallink Latvija AS notified the Latvian Employment Agency and the group's Latvian crew members and shore personnel on Friday that it is launching a collective layoff process involving some 550 Latvian employees.
The process will involve both crew members of the group's Latvian-flagged vessels MS Isabelle and MS Romantika, which operate on the shipper's Riga-Stockholm route, as well as the company's Latvian shore personnel, but the majority of positions in question are those of onboard service personnel, Tallink said in a press release on Friday.
The Isabelle and the Romantika have been docked at the Port of Riga since mid-March due to the ongoing emergency situation and established travel restrictions, and there is currently no information regarding when the operation of the route is likely to be restored. Per maritime regulations, both vessels currently have the minimum required level of technical crew on board, but for the past month, all other onboard employees have been at home on reduced salaries paid by the company.
"The decision we are announcing today has been made with a very heavy heart," Tallink Grupp CEO Paavo Nõgene said. "We are forced to take this step, although we have been searching nonstop for solutions that would enable us to avoid getting to the point where we have no other options but to lose vital jobs and people. The reality is that for a month already, our Latvian-flagged vessels are standing idle in port, and the employees of these vessels are at home with limited working hours and reduced salaries, and we have no knowledge yet today regarding when this situation will change and we are able to return our vessels at least in some capacity to the Baltic Sea."
According to Nõgene, it is clear that the shipper's Riga-Stockholm route won't be restored overnight, or even within the next few months, and that it is likely that the route won't be restored to its pre-crisis capacity anytime this year either.
"It is thus very clear that we will not have the same amount of jobs to offer Latvia in the near future," he added.
According to Tallink's current estimates, it is likely that the Riga-Stockholm route will initially be reopened with only one vessel on the route once restrictions are lifted, as initial estimated passenger figures do not justify immediately returning two vessels to the route. It is likely that each trip on the route made by a Tallink vessel will initially incur further losses for the company, Tallink added.
The CEO noted that the company had hoped to see the Latvian government consider support measures for the shipping industry, similarly to Estonia, Finland and Sweden, but to date, however, no specific solutions for the sector have yet been offered.
"We have sent another request for support to the Latvian government ministers recently, and hope that the Latvian government considers it important or necessary to continue the maritime route between Riga and Stockholm and will find some means to support international shipping," Nõgene said.
Editor: Aili Vahtla