Baltic ferry operator Viking Line has reported a significant rise in income during the first six months of this year.
Sales amounted to €226.3 mill, compared to €199.8 mill for 1H22, while net income was €6.9 mill, compared with a loss of €9.8 mill in the previous period.
For the second quarter of 2023, Viking Line reported sales of €132.4 mill, compared to €141 mill in 2Q22 and net income was €10.6 mill, compared to €6.3 mill in the corresponding period last year.
Providing that energy prices remain at current levels, Viking Line’s Board believed that income before taxes for the full year will be significantly better than last year.
President and CEO, Jan Hanses, said: “Results for the first half of the year exceeded expectations and give cause for an improved full-year outlook. Passenger and cargo volumes continued to rise, despite a smaller number of vessels, while the planned price levels were reached.
“Bunker (vessel oil) prices have gradually fallen but are still very high relative to before the pandemic and Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.
“On 17th January, ‘Rosella’ was sold and delivered to a Greek buyer. The capital gain from the sale boosted earnings for the first half of the year. In March 2023, ‘Viking XPRS’ was reflagged to a Finnish flag.
“As a result, it was possible to transfer staff on board ‘Rosella’ to the company’s other vessels, while restructuring negotiations were conducted in order to adapt the land-based organisation to the situation after the sale of Viking Line’s vessels. Despite these measures, staff performance has been excellent and contributed to half-year earnings.
“For Viking Line, traffic on the short-haul route between Mariehamn and Kapellskär ended with the sale of ‘Rosella’. We see that some passengers on this route have chosen to sail on our other vessels from Stockholm to Åland.
“Starting in 2024, our traffic will fall under the EU Emissions Trading System, which means a cost will be imposed on us that we can only partly offset in the medium term through continued energy efficiency work. Fossil-free fuels are not available in a quantity and at prices that are economically viable.
“The introduction of a temporary island exemption from the EU Emissions Trading System for traffic between Finland and Åland is thus well justified, since the transition to fossil-free fuels is not determined by the cost of emissions rights but by the supply of alternative fossil-free fuels.
“We do not intend to lower our ambitions to reduce emissions from our traffic because the introduction of the island exemption. On the contrary, we will use the cost savings for the continued work aimed at transitioning to fossil-free fuels and increasing energy efficiency.
“During the first six months of the year, nearly 2.2 mill passengers sailed with Viking Line’s vessels. Occupancy rates have been good on all the vessels. On the route between Turku, Åland and Stockholm, travel was intense on ‘Viking Grace’ and the new ‘Viking Glory’. Market share for the first six months was over 73%. To sum up, I can note that the first six months of 2023 were very strong, even excluding the income effect of the sale of Rosella.
“We are really pleased that we have now also been able to announce our plans to partner with Gotlandsbolaget, for which we see great potential,” he said.
First half 2023 passenger-related revenue increased 14.7% to €201.1 mill (€175.2 mill), while cargo sales were €23.6 mill (€23.2 mill) and other operating revenue was €1.6 mill (€1.4 mill). The sales contribution was €172.4 mill (€151.7 mill).
Passenger-related revenue for 2Q23 decreased 5.7% to €120.7 mill (€128 mill), while cargo-related revenue was €10.9 mill (€12.3 mill) and other revenue was €0.8 mill (€0.7 mill).
The Group’s investments for the first six months of 2023, amounted to €7.7 mill (€12.7 mill). Total investments represented 3.4% of sales (6.4%). Most are attributable to the drydocking of ‘Viking Grace’ and cabin upgrades on both ‘Gabriella’ and ‘Cinderella’.
The Group’s long-term interest-bearing liabilities as of 30th June, 2023, totalled €168.5 mill (€227.3 mill). Cash and cash equivalents at the end of June totalled €97.7 mill (€103.6 mill). Unutilised credit lines in the Group totalled €0.1 mill (€15.1 mill).