Estonian ferry line Tallink is adding more departures to its new Helsinki-Riga and Turku-Tallinn routes, the company says.
Tallink Grupp, the shipping line's parent company, says that significant interest was behind the decision. The routes were only recently announced, following the lifting of restrictions in place during the coronavirus pandemic, and are intended to be temporary through the summer months.
"The two new temporary routes, Helsinki-Riga and Turku (Finland)-Tallinn have very quickly proved very popular among our customers, so we are pleased to be able to offer even more opportunities to travel on these routes in August," Paavo Nõgene, CEO of Tallink Grupp said.
Tallink has extended its Helsinki-Riga route through to late August, until August 28 at the earliest. The line was supposed to be discontinued on August 16.
The Helsinki -Riga route was originally due to operate only until August 16, but due to significant customer interest, the company will continue to operate the route at least until 28 August.
From August 17-28, three departures on the company's MS Silja Serenade ferry will leave Helsinki on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
The Turku-Tallinn route will add weekends to its departures, from July 31, as well as additional departures on Fridays from Tallinn on July 31, August 7 and August 14, the company says. At present the route works only weekdays.
This route uses the MS Baltic Queen ferry.
"As travel opportunities to more distant places remain limited and traveller confidence to travel further afield than the Baltics and Finland this summer is low, it is important that we continue to provide suitable options for everyone who wants to travel in our region and do so safely, offering more departures and thus keeping passenger numbers lower than usual," Nõgene went on, according to a Tallink press release.
Earlier this month, Tallink finalized a loan of €100 million it is getting from state credit agency KredEx, necessitated by the effects of the pandemic which brought its services to a standstill (cargo ships aside) for several weeks. The company had applied for €150 million. Tallink Grupp's companies have together received close to €8 million in state aid via the government's wage support scheme, introduced in April.
The effects of the pandemic from a public health perspective continue to be uppermost in the company's mind as well.
"We will only sell a certain amount of tickets for each departures so that the vessels would not be too crowded and so that everyone has the opportunity to keep the desired distance from others. This is the main reason for adding more departures," Nõgene said.
Tallink says strict hygiene and safety measures are implemented on board its vessels and passengers with even the slightest coronavirus symptoms or health issues must not travel.
Early on in the crisis, the company laid on several ferry journeys to transport Estonian citizens stranded in western Europe after Poland closed its borders.
Editor: Andrew Whyte