The recession has failed to bate Finns’ passion for maritime travel. Companies plying the Finnish-Estonian route in particular have enjoyed strong demand. Part of the explanation for this lies in the decline in the number of competitors offering this connection: last autumn, both SuperSeaCat and Nordic Jet Line ceased to operate between Helsinki and Tallinn.
In July, more than 430,000 passengers travelled between Finland and Estonia, an increase of about one quarter on last year’s numbers. On the Finland-Sweden route, passenger numbers grew by around ten per cent, swelling to just over 420,000.
“Unlike before, people don’t book their trips as much in advance as they used to,” says Anders Gross, the CEO of Linda Line. However, the numbers have remained high, and Linda Line has had 265,000 passengers so far this year. The company has enjoyed a 65 per cent rise in passengers, this owing much to the fact that they doubled their capacity by adding a second catamaran to the Helsinki-Tallinn route.
Viking Line carried more than 195,000 of the travellers between Helsinki and Tallinn during July – an increase of 15,000 on last year. Passenger numbers were also up between Mariehamn and Kappellskär. The Helsinki-Stockholm route managed to attract roughly the same number of passengers as last year, but the Turku-Stockholm leg was somewhat quieter.
The sharpest rise in demand was enjoyed by Eckerö Line on its Helsinki-Tallinn route. During the May-July period, the company carried almost a fifth more passengers than during the same period last year. In managing director David Lindström’s view, Tallinn has established itself as an enduring favourite of Finns, and Estonia’s competitive prices are a further enticement.