Saremaa-Latvia ferry link not coming in 2019

Cruise ship in Saaremaa. The island depends on additional arrivals in the summer season.
Cruise ship in Saaremaa. The island depends on additional arrivals in the summer season. Source: Margus Muld/ERR

The plan of the local government of Saaremaa to open a ferry connection between the ports of Montu on the island and the port of Ventspils on the Latvian mainland this summer will have to be postponed due to "delayed preparations," the Baltic News Service reports.

Quoting local paper Saarte Hääl, the BNS' update pointed to "delays in preparatory work" on the way to a working ferry connection.

"Although we wanted to ideally open the route in summer 2019, procedures concerning the launch of the route have unfortunately been delayed for various reasons," mayor of the Saaremaa municipality, Madis Kallas told Saarte Hääl.

According to Kallas, there is a possibility that the route will be introduced next year. Locals remain hopeful, as the new connection would likely contribute to the island's business in the summer season.

According to a viability study commissioned by local non-profit Saarte Koostöökogu, the connection would be socioeconomically viable, but would likely need state backing as it couldn't be expected to be a commercial success.

The study's optimistic scenario still expects subsidies in the amount of more than €100,000 to be necessary to keep the route open, with the hope of the route becoming profitable within some eight years. A less optimistic scenario predicts more than €300,000 a year would be needed.

Representatives at both the Estonian and the Latvian end decided in June last year to start looking for a suitable passenger ferry for the proposed summer service. They started the process of drawing up a public tender for this in October 2018.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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