Tallink Grupp has also signed an agreement with the Estonian Social Insurance Board to charter out the company’s ropax ’Isabelle’ to provide temporary accommodation to Ukrainian refugees arriving in Estonia.
The vessel will be chartered to the Estonian authorities from 7th April, 2022, for an initial period of four months with an option to extend the charter by another two months and thereafter by another two months, if needed.
Chartering the vessel to the Estonian authorities to provide urgent relief for the temporary housing issue means that the company will not be re-opening the Riga/Stockholm route on 3rd June, 2022 as announced in late March.
The company had initially planned to re-open the route, which has been suspended since March 2020, on 6th April this year, but announced a week ago that the re-opening will be delayed by two months, due to the challenging geopolitical situation putting pressure on passenger numbers and prices, making the re-opening of the route in April/May not viable.
However, the charter now means that the vessel planned for operating on the route, will instead be used for urgent support to the Estonian authorities and the route re-opening will be pushed further into the future.
“Chartering out ‘Isabelle’ has not been an easy decision for us as the Riga/Stockholm route that we have spent nearly 16 years building, has been severely impacted, firstly by the COVID crisis and now, additionally, by the uncertainties and price hikes resulting from the war in Ukraine.
“As Tallink has gone through an extensive survival course during the crisis of the last two years, we have had to make every single decision very carefully and our decisions need to be thoroughly calculated, assessing all possible risks involved in great detail. Today’s decision to charter out our vessel ‘Isabelle’ to provide urgent accommodation to Ukrainian refugees is one such decision,“ Paavo Nõgene, Tallink Grupp CEO, said.
“Chartering the vessel means, on the one hand, that we are able to offer our support to Ukrainian refugees by providing much-needed accommodation, but also job opportunities on the vessel to people who have had to flee Ukraine. On the other hand, of course, the agreement means that we will not be able to re-open the Riga-Stockholm route in 2022 as we had originally planned and hoped. We have not, however, given up the plan to re-open this popular route in the future, but right now it is too early to estimate when this can happen profitably and sustainably,“ Nõgene added.
Tallink will offer employment to the crew and employees currently working for the company’s Latvian organisation on board other Tallink vessels, including ‘Isabelle’, during the coming months.
The company will make announcements regarding the new plans for the re-opening of the Riga/Stockholm route as soon as any such decisions are made.