Ship travel currently rather active in Helsinki: late summer passenger numbers at approximately 80% of pre-COVID levels

15.8.2022 13:06:18
Passengers at the Olympia Terminal departure lounge.
The renovation of the Olympia Terminal, which turned 70 this summer, brought more light and space to the departure lounge in keeping with its original atmosphere.

Ship travel in Helsinki has recovered to a level approximately 20% below the record-breaking years preceding the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, the volume of cargo transported via Helsinki is on track to breaking the previous record.

“We have been overjoyed to see so many passengers traveling to Tallinn, Stockholm and Travemünde during the summer season in particular. The international cruise season, which will end in October, has also been active. Interest in travel is once again on the rise after COVID,” says the CEO of the Port of Helsinki Ville Haapasaari.
“At present, passenger numbers are approximately 20% lower than in 2019. It remains to be seen whether the difference will be made up during the remainder of the year.” 

The number of liner traffic passengers in Helsinki in January–July was 4.5 million. The change from the same period in the previous year is +203%. 

The route with the highest passenger numbers has been Helsinki-Tallinn with a total of 3.5 million passengers in January–July. The number of passengers recorded on the Stockholm-Helsinki route during the same period was nearly 790,000. 

The Port of Helsinki’s weekly numbers of passengers. This year is marked in dark blue, the previous year is marked in green and, for comparison, the chart also includes pre-COVID 2019 in light blue.

Cargo volumes on track to break records

Goods are currently being transported via the Port of Helsinki at a record-breaking pace. 

The total cargo volume in January–July was 8.9 million tonnes, which is 8.4% more than in the same period in the previous year. Of this amount, 4.2 million tonnes was in import (+15.3%), and 4.7 million tonnes in export (+2.5%).

Unitised cargo traffic* amounted to 7.5 million tonnes (+7.2%). Measured in tonnes, container traffic increased by 0.4% from the previous year, while rubber-wheeled traffic** increased by 10.2%.

Challenging times ahead

Increased transportation costs, challenges in cargo traffic delivery chains and the effects of the war in Ukraine on general economic developments are presenting challenges to the Port of Helsinki’s operating environment as well. However, the development of cargo traffic has remained positive so far despite the darkening general economic outlook.

The development of the port’s liner traffic and passenger numbers in the remainder of the year will be affected not only by international challenges, but the sale and leasing of ships abroad as well. Viking Line recently sold the M/S Amorella and is currently re-evaluating which ships it will operate on the Helsinki-Stockholm route going forward. Meanwhile Tallink Silja has leased out the Silja Europa, which is expected to return to regular operation in spring 2023. A positive development this autumn will be the start of Tallink’s new ship MyStar’s operation on the Helsinki-Tallin route.

“The recovery of passenger numbers to pre-COVID levels will most likely take a few more years and depends on how quickly international tourism recovers,” Haapasaari estimates. 

*Most of the goods transported via the Port of Helsinki are unitised cargo for Finland’s foreign trade, i.e. cargo transported in containers, trucks and trailers.
**Rubber-wheeled traffic = goods transported in trucks and trailers.

Enquiries and more info:
Port of Helsinki Port Statistics January–July 2022
The weekly numbers of passengers at the Port of Helsinki will be updated in this article (in FInnish)
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