While passenger numbers between Estonia and Sweden have recovered to pre-crisis levels, Tallink does not intend to add a second vessel to its Tallinn-Stockholm route this year, citing high fuel costs.
In the second quarter of 2019, Tallink served a total of 271,407 passengers between two ships on its Tallinn-Stockholm route. This year, in the same timeframe, it has served 136,000 passengers with just one.
Despite demand bouncing back, Tallink announced early this month that it had rented the MS Victoria I to Scotland. The route is currently being served solo by the MS Baltic Queen.
Tallink will continue to operate its Tallinn-Stockholm route with one vessel this year, which is entirely sufficient for meeting demand, Tallink Grupp CEO Paavo Nõgene told ERR.
"Tickets are available for purchase for all departures," he said. "Let's hope that we'll be able to operate this route with two vessels next year."
Nõgene added that Tallink monitors market demand and will respond as needed.
"With today's high fuel prices, Tallink is calculating on a daily basis how many vessels and on which routes it's capable of sustainably operating," he said.
The CEO said that the shipper has noted a gradual increase in passenger numbers on its Estonia-Finland routes, but acknowledged that they unfortunately won't be seeing a return to pre-crisis levels this year.
Last month, Tallink served a total of 600,488 passengers, up 174.3 percent on year. Cargo figures, meanwhile, increased 17.4 percent on year to 36,911 units, and the number of passenger vehicles transported increased 56.6 percent to 91,421.
New vessel delayed at least half a year
Originally slated to enter service in early 2022, Tallink's new vessel MS Mystar won't be completed and ready for handover until September, Finish public broadcaster Yle reported regional paper Turku Sanomat as saying.
The completion of the MyStar, which is being built at Finland's Rauma Shipyard, will be delayed by at least half a year. According to the paper's info, the new vessel should be finished in September, although it should have already been handed over to Tallink this spring.
Nonetheless, Margus Schults, CEO of Tallink subsidiary Tallink-Silja, saw an upside to the delay.
"If the new vessel arrives this fall, we'll earn more attention from travelers during an otherwise quieter fall season," Schults told the paper in an interview.
As of February, Nõgene had still said that the vessel should be completed by the end of May or beginning of June, and at the time had been added to the shipper's June schedule. Currently, Tallink has included the MyStar on its September schedule.
Construction of the MS MyStar began at Rauma Shipyard, near Turku, in April 2020.
Costing approximately €250 million, the new vessel is 212 meters long with a beam length of 31 meters and will have a maximum capacity of 2,800 passengers and up to 750 vehicles.
The MyStar will run on LNG. Over the past two years, the price of natural gas has quadrupled.
Editor: Aili Vahtla