Transport of Medicines is Guaranteed by Finnish Shipowners

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The Association for the Pharmaceutical Industry has appealed for the transport of medicines and other critical goods to be secured.

“The shipping companies in Finland ensure that maritime transport of medicines to Finland is secured on our vessels. The vessels are a vital part of Finland’s security of supply. This will ensure access to medicines in Finland and to Finns everywhere in our country,” says Tiina Tuurnala, President and CEO of the Finnish Shipowners Association.

“Access to groceries, such as food and pharmaceuticals, is ensured in Finland. In its rulings on exceptional circumstances, the Government has stated that the transport of goods and freight is secured. The shipping companies, authorities and the emergency preparedness organization cooperate actively to ensure that all freight is transported.”

Almost 90% of Finland’s imports and exports are transported by sea, in this sense Finland is an island. In addition to the cargo ships, Finnish passenger ships are an important part of security of supply.

GIROLATA’s Charter to Grandi Navi Veloci in Off Hire for Covid-19

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La Meridionale-controlled ferry GIROLATA sailed back from the port of Termini Imerese to Marseilles because the time charter was put in off hire by Grandi Navi Veloci due to the Coronavirus emergency, Ferry Shipping News understood.

In Italy all the passenger services with the islands were closed by the Government and the roro and ropax ships are allowed to operate just for transporting cargo. Furthermore, as from March 25, only essential cargoes can be distributed.

MSC-controlled Grandi Navi Veloci chartered-in the ferry GIROLATA from La Meridionale from January to the end of September 2020, with an option for extending the contract for further three months. The companies agreed for a deck & engine and full catering charter for the ship deployed on the Civitavecchia – Termini Imerese maritime link. Once the emergency will be overcome the ferry should go back to serve the same link in Italy (in two months).

Hellenic Coastal Lines: Ferry Companies are Seeking for Financial Support

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According to the latest data the coronavirus gives a major hit to the Hellenic Coastal Lines. More specifically, traffic on March 18, 2020 decreased by 70% in the North Aegean, 56% in the Dodecanese, 74% in the Cyclades, 75% in Heraklion and 83% in Chania.

Indicative figures released from the Association of Passenger Shipping Companies (23.03.2020) shows that passenger traffic for the period 16-22/3, had a major decrease of 77,33%, compared with 2019!

The highest decrease is recorded in the Cyclades from both Piraeus and Rafina ports (82,46%) while the second and third place goes to the lines of Crete (75.85%) and the North Aegean (72.46%).

The Association underlines that the burden on ferry companies is already high, as the March-May period covers 20% of the annual passenger traffic.

In fact, the reduction in passenger traffic – in the last few days- is expected to be even higher after the restrictive measures were taken on March 21 by the Ministry of Shipping which only allows permanent island residents to travel with some exceptions for health, education and military personnel.

Moreover, the Hellenic Ministry of Shipping and Island Policy has already been informed about the failure of some ferry operators to return prepaid fares that were already booked for the Easter and the summer season.

Fortunately, their only ally –so far- against this severe crisis is the oil prices which have fallen by about 60% (25,9$) since the beginning of the year, otherwise the majority of them would have been forced to halt sailings and laid up their ferries.

In order to face that major decrease, Greek Ferry Companies call for financial support by the State as they have been severely affected by the pandemic. Some have already sent an official letter to the Minister of Shipping and Island Policy with a notification to the Minister of Development. Among their demands are:

  • Cancellation or temporarily suspension the annual ferry services’ statements (ferries introduced for the 2020 period) at least until the global pandemic alarm ends
  • Further reduction of the passenger service staff
  • Subsidization or reduction current insurance liabilities
  • Exemption of the ferry companies from paying port dues
  • Provision interest-free working capital
  • Reduction of the VAT rate on passenger tickets from 24% to 13%
  • Intervention–by the government- in the management of Piraeus Port Authority SA in order to maintain temporary repair posts of ships within the main port without further increases for ships under forced holiday.

Italy: More Hospital Ferries Are Being Considered in the Ports of Gioia Tauro and Ancona

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Following the example of the ropax SPLENDID where 25 cabins were fitted with some specific equipment and services to accommodate Coronavirus-affected people, a second unit from Grandi Navi Veloci might be used as hospital ship in Southern Italy.

The major of Gioia Tauro wrote a letter to Gianluigi Aponte asking for a ferry to be moored in the port and the founder of MSC Group (which also operates a big terminal container there) replied positively. Matteo Catani, CEO of GNV, said they would be ready to send a ship there if required by the health authorities.

A third example of accomodation vessel for infected people may take shape in the port of Ancona where the Italian Protezione Civile, the public body in charge for managing the coronavirus emergency, is considering whether to use a ship or a hotel ashore in case of lack of beds in the hospitals to receive patients. In Ancona a passenger vessel from the Adria ferries fleet would be the most likely option in case.

P&O Ferries

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P&O Ferries (1)

Larne – Cairnryan route will be running on a revised schedule, due to increased demand for unaccompanied traffic. (since 23 March 2020)

The Teesport – Europoort service will permanently move from the Riverside terminal in Teesport to the main terminal. The first ship, WILHELMINE, will call at the main terminal at 06:00 on Sunday 29 March.

P&O Ferries (2)

P&O Ferries is strengthening its freight operations on the Calais-Dover crossing as part of its commitment to maintain the flow of goods during the Covid-19 crisis.

The shift to meet the challenge of the Covid-19 crisis is made possible thanks to the commitment and hard work of P&O Ferries’ workforce in the Port of Calais, who are taking on new roles in freight handling to keep food, medicines and other goods flowing. P&O Ferries is following the guidance of health authorities on both sides of the channel to protect the health and well-being of employees and customers. The check-in and loading process has been modified to avoid direct contact. Cleaning protocols have been intensified on ships, which have also switched from air-conditioning to fresh air.


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From 25 March till 02 April, the following changes will be introduced in the Polferries ferry traffic:

Swinoujscie – Ystad: MAZOVIA and CRACOVIA will operate according to timetable, but BALTIVIA will be transferred.

Nynäshamn- Gdansk: NOVA STAR ferry will not operate the line. BALTIVIA, intended only freight traffic goes into the NOVA STAR timetable.

All transports of cars and trucks without driver until further notice are suspended. The above decision does not apply to the carriage of semi-trailers which will be operated in the normal manner.

Polferries write they are not able to guarantee single cabins for freight drivers.

Stena Line Closes the Oslo-Frederikshavn Route Permanently

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Coronavirus and travel restrictions imposed by Norway and Denmark created a drastic decline in travel bookings on the Stena Line Oslo – Frederikshavn route. On Thursday 19 March the decision was made to permanently close the route after more than 40 years in operation.

The decision means Stena Line will close their office in Oslo which will affect 30 shore-based employees.

The 1981-built ferry STENA SAGA is currently in lay up in its port of registry, Gothenburg.


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Tallink (1)

Tallink Grupp has been commissioned by the Estonian Ministry of Economics and Communication to operate the group’s vessel STAR on the Paldiski-Sassnitz route. The route has been commissioned to ensure continuing movement of goods between the Baltics and the Nordics and Western Europe during the coronavirus situation.

The new schedule is effective from 27 March until 18 April 2020.

The vessel’s cargo capacity is 100 lorries and 10 passenger vehicles. If there are less lorries, more passenger vehicles may be taken on board. Passengers without vehicles will not be allowed on board. Food and medical supplies transport will be prioritised during the booking process.
Accommodation for all passengers will be provided in cabins.

Tallink (2)

Tallink is rerouting its vessels BALTIC PRINCESS and GALAXY back to the Turku-Stockholm route, via Långnäs in Aland. The rerouting is vital to ensure maritime transport of supplies and goods between Finland and Sweden continues as normal during the current coronavirus situation.

Tallink (3)

Members of the Tallink Grupp Supervisory Board Enn Pant, Ain Hanschmidt, Kalev Järvelill, Toivo Ninnas, Eve Pant and Raino Paron have this week unanimously decided to waive their Supervisory Board remuneration. According to the initial decision, the remuneration has been waived by the Board members for the next three months.

Commenting on the decision, Mr Enn Pant, Chairman of the Supervisory Board said:

“In the current economic crisis resulting from the coronavirus outbreak, which the whole world is faced with and in which everyone is looking for solutions to ensure survival and sustainability of operations, waiving the remuneration is the least the Supervisory Board members can currently do and it is the most logical step.