The Ministry of Regional Affairs and Agriculture has extended a deadline for tender process for ferry services to Estonia's larger islands to the beginning of March, over a technicality.
Last November, the ministry announced an international public tender process, to find a carrier for the Virtsu-Kuivastu (Saaremaa) and Rohuküla-Heltermaa (Hiiumaa) ferry services, for a seven-year term, starting in fall of 2026.
Andres Ruubas, head of the regional ministry's public transport department, told ERR that the deadline for this tender was February 1 ie. Thursday this week, but since the tender documentation has been contested, that deadline has been postponed to March 5.
Among other things, the conditions of the procurement included the requirement that profit margins during the entire contract validity period be up to eight percent, meaning competitive offers were expected.
TS Laevad, a subsidiary of the part-state-owned Port of Tallinn (Tallinna Sadam) authority, holds the tender to provide passenger links between Saaremaa (actually via Muhu island, connected to Saaremaa via a causeway) and the mainland, and Hiiumaa and the mainland.
The new procurement period runs from October 1, 2026 to the end of September 2033, while the ministry wants to find a single contract partner to maintain both routes.
Following the end of the next contractual period in fall 2033, the state's long-range plans include introducing newer and more environmentally friendly vessels to sail on the two routes.
In any case, a ferry tender worth €40 million for a new battery-hydrogen ferry was also announced late last year.
Editor: Marko Tooming, Andrew Whyte