Passenger traffic quiet at the Port of Helsinki – foreign trade continues

23.10.2020 09:13:24
Helsingin Länsisatama vuonna 2020

At the end of the third quarter of the year, the Port of Helsinki’s operations are suffering from the travel restrictions and global economy challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The decrease in the number of passengers is clearly visible in the company’s turnover.

Over the course of the year, in addition to attending to the traffic, the Port of Helsinki has particularly focused on securing the conditions for safe travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Port has put up instructions on coronavirus-safe conduct in the passenger terminals, enhanced cleaning and secured the operating conditions of health authorities and border control at harbours. These efforts will be continued in close cooperation with shipping companies and authorities.

Passenger traffic has quieted down

The number of liner traffic* passengers at the Port of Helsinki between January and September was 4.1 million, which is 53.9% less than last year. At the turn of September and October, the amount of passenger traffic that passed through the Port of Helsinki was roughly -80% compared to the same time last year.

The COVID-19 situation had a particularly strong impact on international cruise traffic, which was practically not realised at all in Helsinki this year.

The number of liner traffic passengers increased during the summer season, after an almost complete halt in the spring, but the COVID-19 situation began to deteriorate again in August. At the end of September, Finland reinstated internal border control of the Schengen area and tightened the conditions for travel. In this difficult situation, shipping companies have reduced the number of vessel calls, and traffic to Sweden is not expected to reopen until spring. 

Cargo traffic ensures the security of supply

The Port of Helsinki is the most important transit point for food and other daily consumer goods in Finland, and its role in ensuring international cargo traffic and Finland’s security of supply is significant. Cargo traffic has been successfully maintained throughout the difficult pandemic, although the total amount of cargo has decreased somewhat from last year.

Between January and September, the Port of Helsinki Group’s total cargo traffic was 9.8 million tonnes (-9.0%). The same level of roughly 10% lower than last year is also expected to continue for the last quarter of the year.

Unitized cargo traffic** amounted to 8.5 million tonnes (-8.3%). The unitized traffic on the Tallinn route increased by 3.7% compared to last year.

The pandemic weighs heavily on the company’s financial situation

The consequences of the pandemic are impacting the company’s financial situation negatively. The Port of Helsinki Ltd’s turnover for January–September was EUR 52.5 million, which is EUR 21.0 million (-28.6%) less than last year.

Due to the prevailing pandemic and the resulting decrease in the amount of traffic, as well as the poor financial situation, the turnover for 2020 is estimated to be EUR 66.8 million (2019: EUR 95.6 million), which will be a clear loss for the company.

The company has adapted its cost structure, reduced service purchases and postponed some investments, among other things. However, the company has still been able to move forward with the most important investments as planned. Several of them are related to enhancing efficiency of operations and achieving the Port’s carbon neutrality target by 2035.

Port of Helsinki Statistics, January–September 2020

* liner traffic = regular ship traffic that operates according to a schedule, e.g. RoPax ferries operating between Tallinn and Helsinki.
** unitized cargo = goods transported in large units, such as containers, trucks and trailers.

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