General price rises and summer demand push up ferry ticket costs

A passenger ferry in Tallinn.
A passenger ferry in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

When compared to last year, the cost of ferry trips from Estonia to Finland are, in some cases up to a third more expensive. In addition to general price increases, demand and competition have also had an impact on fares.

Ferry ticket prices are dynamic, meaning they change depending on how full ships are. A return trip from Tallinn to Helsinki for two adults with a car on an Eckerö Line ship on a Friday in July costs around €157. Katrin Sirk Aun, head of Eckerö Line's Estonian branch, said that on average, ferry tickets are now 20-30 percent more expensive than last year.

"The price depends very much on how full the ship is at the time when you buy the ticket. However, the baseline price has definitely gone up. There's no fixed percentage, it depends on the particular departure. The departures that have gone up the most are the ones that are the most popular," explained Aun.

When travelling with Tallink, a day trip from Tallinn to Helsinki on a Friday in July for two adults with one car costs €137 on average. Katri Link, Tallink's communications manager, said that the general price increases have inevitably pushed up the cost of ferry tickets.

Katrin Sirk Aun added, that prices will rise even more in future due to environmental requirements affecting ships.

"In 2024 our energy costs will increase by 60 percent, and in 2025 by 100 percent. These ships are not productive enough for us to absorb these costs. In any case, it will be passed on to passenger tickets, car tickets and freight prices," Aun said.

With Viking Line, a return trip to Helsinki from Tallinn for two adults and one car on a Friday in July costs around €170. Inno Borodenko, CEO of Viking Line Estonia, added that due to the dynamic nature of prices, some days of the week may now be cheaper than at the same time last year.

"In reality, it all depends on how many people want to travel on a particular day. And what the competitors are doing at the moment. In other words, how full their ships are and what they are doing with their fares. Competitors adjust their fares accordingly."

Aun, Link and Borodenko all acknowledged that in summer, ferry tickets are generally more expensive than usual because there are several times more passengers.

"We do have one more departure per day here from the end of this week, but we haven't seen a huge increase in supply. If there are a lot more passengers but the number of ferries and departures stays the same, prices should go up," Borodenko said.

There is no immediate solution to the increase in ticket prices however, as ferries cannot sail more frequently than they currently do.

"Ships are currently making as many trips as they can and the demand is high. If you look at the schedule, we are in port for either an hour or 45 minutes, which is exactly the amount of time it takes to unload and then load up a ship," Aun said.

According to Borodenko, adding more frequent departures to the schedule would not be a solution either, due to the higher costs involved for shipping companies. Prices would fall because of competition.

"If competitors were to lower their price, and I say that in a conditional way, then a shipping company cannot be in a different world and offer (tickets at) far higher prices than its competitors," Borodenko said.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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