The coronavirus affected the cargo traffic at the Port of Helsinki surprisingly little during the first quarter. However, the complete halt in passenger traffic is weakening the Port’s results significantly.
The early figures for cargo traffic are also affected by the strikes of the paper and forestry industries, in addition to the coronavirus. The total cargo traffic of the Port of Helsinki Group amounted to 3.3 million tonnes from January to March, which is 6.5% less than in the same quarter in the previous year.
Unitized cargo, meaning the goods transported in sea containers, trucks and trailers, amounted to 2.8 million tonnes (-5.4%) and 118,000 TEU* (-10.0%), even though the coronavirus, the outbreak of which was declared a pandemic in March, has also significantly affected sea traffic, and the lowered capacity in Asian traffic slowed down the circulation of containers. Of unitized cargo, 1.4 million tonnes was in import (-1.5%) and 1.5 million tonnes in export (+8.7%). The unitized traffic on the Tallinn route grew by 4.0%.
Ship traffic is vital for Finland’s security of supply.
– More than 70 per cent of the imports via the Port of Helsinki are consumer goods, says the CEO of the Port, Ville Haapasaari.
– Their availability is particularly important during crises. Now that some of the ships are staying in dock, many RoPax ferries, supported by the National Emergency Supply Agency, have provided their car decks fully for cargo traffic. They have strongly contributed to the transport of medication and food to Finland.
The coronavirus pandemic halted passenger traffic
For passenger traffic, the year started promisingly, and the number of passengers increased by 8.5% in January–February, compared to the previous year. However, as the coronavirus pandemic spread, the Finnish Government recommended several measures that restricted travel, which led to ship travel practically coming to a halt in March.
During the first quarter of the year, 1.8 million passengers travelled via the Port of Helsinki, which equals 15.4% fewer passengers than at the corresponding time in the previous year. Traffic decreased by 13.5% on the Tallinn route, by 21.0% on the Stockholm route, and by 2.7% on the Travemünde route.
Weakened profit forecast
The current goal of the Port of Helsinki is to secure port operations and services as well as possible, even amidst the ever-changing conditions. Despite this, the deep decrease in traffic has a major financial impact on the Port. The Group’s profit forecast for the current year is significantly weakened due to the coronavirus.
* TEU = twenty-foot equivalent unit.
For more information, please contact:
CEO Ville Haapasaari, Port of Helsinki Ltd
tel. +358 (0)40 709 8798