On Wednesday, the Estonian Ministry of Regional Affairs and Agriculture announced an international public tender to find a ferry operator for the Virtsu-Kuivastu and Rohuküla-Heltermaa routes for a seven-year period beginning in the fall of 2026.
The tender period is from October 1, 2026 until the end of September 2033, with the ministry aiming to find one contractor to operate both routes. The deadline for submission of bids on the tender is February 1 next year.
The contract will be awarded for a seven-year period, as the state plans to introduce new environmentally friendly vessels on the route from 2033.
Among the terms of the tender include is a requirement for a profit margin of up to eight percent for the entire contractual period.
There are also plans for a fifth ferry containing am additional 50 parking spaces to operate on the route between mainland Estonia and Saaremaa.
"The fifth ferry will offer local residents on both the island and the mainland better transport options in both directions. Saaremaa is an important tourist destination, and the new ferry will help to ease ferry traffic during the peak season, with everyone able to enjoy better services," said Minister of Regional Affairs Madis Kallas (SDE).
The number of passengers on both ferry routes has increased in the last year, with more than 17,000 trips made annually to Saaremaa and nearly 6,000 to Hiiumaa. On the Virtsu-Kuivastu route, the number of passengers has increased by five percent over the past year, with a three percent increase on the Rohuküla-Heltermaa route.
Editor: Michael Cole