Estonian shipping line Tallink has reported a 50 percent fall on passenger numbers on year to July, a result of the coronavirus pandemic, though the company says this was still a doubling of figures on the previous month. Cargo shipping only slightly declined on year to July 2020, by 2.9 percent, Tallink says, though on some routes there was actually a rise.
Tallink reported a total of 617,206 passengers for July on its ferries, a fall of 50.2 percent on year, but over twice June's figure of 280,000, according to figures released to the Tallinn stock exchange Tuesday.
July 2019 was actually a record month for passengers, the company added.
Cargo shipping fell 2.9 percent on year to July, at 29,108 units. The company retained its cargo operations throughout the pandemic, with key workers involved in shipping exempt from most travel restrictions imposed at the height of the pandemic.
Passenger vehicles transported by Tallink ferries saw a fall, from 155,297 in July 2019, to 118,167 in July this year.
Commenting on the fresh figures, Tallink Grupp's CEO Paavo Nõgene said:
"This time last year we reported a record monthly passenger number for the month of July; this year I am pleased that we can report a two-fold increase in the number of passengers compared with the previous month, and at least similar passenger numbers to the two first months of the year, before we were hit by the pandemic and our operations were almost completely stopped."
"The numbers we are reporting today have taken considerable effort from every single one of Tallink Grupp's employees to achieve and we have needed to demonstrate almost extreme levels of creativity, speed and flexibility to get to this position in these challenging times," he added, in a press release.
The worst-hit cargo routes were the Latvia-Sweden and Estonia-Sweden lines, where traffic is currently still significantly down on previous years, the company says.
Cargo rose on some routes
On the Estonia-Finland and Finland-Sweden routes, however, cargo transportation actually increased on year to July, by 2.4 percent and 7.1 percent respectively.
Routes between the Estonian and Finnish capitals and the Swedish capital, Stockholm, remain suspended, with the Riga-Stockholm route only running a limited service, though the company's routes between Tallinn and Muuga and the Finnish ports, as well as Paldiski to Kapellskär (Sweden) and between Turku (Finland) and Stockholm, operated normally in July.
Temporary routes and cruises included Helsinki to Riga, Turku to Tallinn, Stockholm to Visby (Gotland) and Tallinn to Aland/Ahvenamaa, via Helsinki.
The company also ran one special summer cruise from Helsinki to Saaremaa.
Nõgene added that the company is planning for various scenarios for the rest of 2020 and aims to adapt as and when needed, both regarding passengers and cargo.
In the early stages of the pandemic in March, Tallink ran several special trips to retrieve Estonian citizens and residents trapped in western Europe after Poland closed its borders ahead of the Baltic States, leaving from north German ports.
Editor: Andrew Whyte