While ferry line Tallink Group had a better September this year than in 2020, the third quarter, July-September, as a whole saw a poorer performance this year than last year, meaning recovery to pre-coronavirus levels is still some way off.
Tallink Grupp CEO Paavo Nõgene said: "The quarter periods in 2020 and 2021 have been almost like a mirror image of one another: Whereas the first-month-and-a-half of the third quarter of 2020 (Q3 2020) were fairly positive after the lifting of restrictions, with the second half of the quarter became negative with the looming second wave of the COVID pandemic, then Q3 of this year has been fairly reserved in terms of passenger numbers in the first couple of months, due to many ongoing restrictions, only now in September are we seeing some increases in numbers and also in near-future bookings."
"However, the numbers are still far off from what we were used to in this quarter in the pre-COVID times and we don't foresee great increases in passenger numbers before next spring or summer. This is the reality we face and it is clear that the travel industry will have another very difficult low autumn-winter season ahead," Nõgene continued, quoted in a press release. "While we must keep our sights on next year and we make plans for a return to travelling after the winter, we must ensure we optimize our operations as much as possible now for the low season ahead and ensure that all our activities over the next five months until spring 2022 are as efficient as possible."
The group disclosed its September 2021 and Q3 2021 passenger and cargo transport statistics to the Tallinn Stock Exchange on Tuesday.
The figures published are as follows:
Passengers transported: Rose 27.6 percent on year, to 310,265 on all routes.
Passenger vehicles: Rose by 4 percent on year, to 64,610 passenger vehicles.
Cargo units: Also rose by 4 percent, to 33,982, compared with September 2020.
An improved coronavirus pandemic picture compared to the same period in 2020, and the Tallinn-Stockholm and Helsinki-Stockholm routes being partly back in operation in 2021, were the main factors here.
Passengers transported: Fell 13 percent on year, to 1,144,092.
Passenger vehicles: Fell 16.8 percent, to 229,468.
Cargo units: Slight fall to 90,538 (from 91,578 in Q3 2020).
Cargo flows were less disrupted during even the peak of the pandemic due to the essential nature of many of the supplies being transported, for instance between Estonia and Finland. Cargo vessel crews, truck drivers etc. often had exemptions to the coronavirus travel restrictions imposed on the populace as a whole.
Looking ahead, Tallink Group says it will temporarily suspend the operation of its cruise vessels, the Baltic Queen, the Silja Europa and the Silja Serenade after the school Christmas holidays end in early January 2022.
The Silja Europa will continue operate some special cruises and charter cruises during the suspension period.
Customers whose bookings are impacted by these decisions are being contacted by the company's customer service teams and offered alternatives, Tallink Group says.
Regular shuttle ferries the Star and the Megastar switch to their traditional winter schedule on October 16.
Editor: Andrew Whyte