Spanish-based ferry company Baleària’s shareholders have foregone their 2019 dividend payments in order to strengthen the company’s position in response to COVID-19.
For last year, Baleària registered a turnover of around €452 mill, about 19% higher than in 2018, according to figures reported in the 10th Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Report, while its operations remain aligned with the sustainable development commitment established in the UN 2030 Agenda.
Cargo carried covered a length of 6.1 mill m, equivalent to 466,000 trucks, which was about 5% more than in the previous financial year. The company emphasised that 75% of the cargo was carried on the Balearic route vessels, where maritime transport is a vital link in the supply of essential products, a logistical aspect, which is proving vital during the coronavirus state of emergency.
Similar situations apply to Ceuta, Melilla and the Canary Islands, Baleària said.
Passengers accounted for 55% of the company’s overall 2019 turnover, a 3% growth. Last year, 4.5 mill passengers embarked on the 30 vessels operated by the Dénia-based shipping company, which also carried 1.06 mill vehicles.
The largest passenger number increase was seen on the routes between the Spanish mainland and the Balearic Islands, but, there was a significant downturn in traffic during the peak season on the Strait of Gibraltar crossing.
EBITDA registered an increase of €84 mill, 19% higher in relative terms, which the company claimed was an indicator of the strength of its business model. This resulted in net profit rising by 5%, to €29 mill.
Eco-efficient growth and digital transformation, provided the backbone of the Baleària business model, the company claimed. As an illustration, two new smart ships were added and engines were replaced on another two, making Baleària the first company to sail the Mediterranean, Canary Islands and Strait of Gibraltar routes using LNG as a fuel.
Baleària said it had plans for nine ships to be operating on LNG by 2021. The company also plans to include other CO2-neutral alternatives to fossil fuels in the future, such as renewable gas and hydrogen.
Cleaner forms of energy use go hand-in-hand with a short- and medium-term digital transformation and an innovation strategy, to continue to make Baleària more competitive, the company explained.
Last year, the digitalisation process involved six vessels being converted into smart ships (by 2021 there will be 11 smart vessels), as progress was made in the digital transformation of passenger embarkation and disembarkation processes, as well as cargo operations in port, to achieve more efficient logistics.
The move to digitalisation extends to every area of management aimed at turning the shipping line into a data-driven company, Baleària said.
For example, in 2019, a fleet ‘control tower’ project began to serve as a tool to provide real-time data about safety, preventive maintenance, commercial efficiency and sustainability. Its first phase focused on monitoring emissions of pollutant gases through the European Green and Connected Ports project. As a result, Baleària will install sensors and measurement equipment on five ships by 2022.
Last year, staff numbers rose by 7%, to 1,800. Around 30% of the workforce hales from another country. In addition, 30% more hours of employee training were provided.
The Baleària Foundation undertook over 500 initiatives in partnership with 280 organisations. This social and environmental commitment is underpinned by the fact that 81% of the company’s more than 7,000 suppliers are local.