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Port of Tallinn passenger throughflow down nearly 82 percent to Q2 2020

Finnish tourists return to Port of Tallinn.
Finnish tourists return to Port of Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Passenger numbers traveling through the state-owned Port of Tallinn (Tallinna Sadam) fell by 81.7 percent on year to the second quarter of 2020 (Q2 2020), as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and resulting border closures made themselves known, the company reports. Cargo volumes actually increased, by over 5 percent, over the same period.

531,000 passengers passed through the Port of Tallinn, which includes the port cities of Paldiski, west of Tallinn, and Muuga, to the east, as well as Tallinn's passenger and cargo ports, in Q2 2020.

Valdo Kalm, Port of Tallinn chair, noted that the pandemic and its after effects had not impacted cargo flows as much as they had passenger flow, with liquid cargo volumes during that period actually rising.

"Thanks to the preservation of trade and vessel traffic during the COVID-19 emergency, we managed to maintain a stable level in the cargo business," Kalm said.

Dry bulk cargo fell particularly in grain and fertilizers, the latter affected by the temporary closure of factories in Russia due to the pandemic.

Passenger numbers fell sharply in the second quarter due to movement restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the temporary closure of borders from March.

From the middle of May, when the Estonian-Finnish border was opened to passengers who needed to travel the route for their work, the number of passengers started to gradually recover, picking up pace last month when borders were open to most EU arrivals.

"Whereas at the beginning of June we were getting 6,000-7,000 passengers a day, at the end of June this figure already reached 18,000-20,000 - about 50 percent of the volume we had in the June of last year," Kalm went on.

However, passenger volumes are still being held back by the ongoing bar on travelers from Sweden entering the country without quarantining, as that country's COVID-19 reported figures are still above the 16 per 100,000 residents threshold recently imposed by the Estonian government.

"Growth is being driven by the Tallinn-Helsinki route, which currently accounts for over 95 percent of total passenger traffic. The Tallinn-Stockholm route is still closed, and cruise ships probably will only come at the end of the season and even then, we will probably see only a few of them," he added.

5.4 million tons of cargo passed through the Port of Tallinn's harbors, a 2.5 percent rise on year.

The number of vessel port calls declined by 20.9 percent to 1,612 over the same period, Port of Tallinn told the Tallinn stock exchange.

Q1 2020 had been relatively stable, as the pandemic's full effects only started to bit towards the end of that quarter, in mid-March.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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