Michalis Sakelis has been interviewed by the Athens News Agency, for the 100 years of the Business Association Passenger Shipping (SEEN).
Most notable points of the interview:
For the recovery of tourism
- Despite the fact that until 13 May 2021 the conditions were not clear, tourism recovered significantly, proving the dynamics of Greece as a tourist destination and creating a climate of optimism and positive prospects for recovery in 2022.
- Compared to 2020, passenger traffic in 2021 (period: first 10 months) increased by 30%, cars by 32% and trucks by 11%. However, compared to 2019, passenger traffic remains low and reduced by 40% in passengers (53% in 2020), by 15% in cars and 12% in trucks.
- There is still a long way to go before ferry operators reach the 2019 traffic, which is a target for both tourist and ferry traffic, including Adriatic routes.
- The increase in traffic —compared to 2020— is mainly due to the Cyclades.
- The increase in revenues in 2021 is not enough to cover the increase in fuel costs (estimated average increase of 2021 by 35% compared to 2020), therefore ferry companies do not expect differences in the financial loss-making results in relation to 2020.
About the increases in the Public Service Contracts
- The increased funding of the Public Service routes was positive and necessary. However, the Ministry of Shipping should clarify that the funds available for Public Service routes are compensations and not state aid or subsidies.
- That increased funding does not aim at the strengthening of Ferry Companies but at the increase of the sailings and the improvement of the coastal services —mainly to small islands— during the period of the pandemic.
About a possible increase in ferry tickets
- Compared to 2020, fuel prices are almost doubled and expected to increase by an average of 35% in 2021.
- The increase in fuel costs, which is the most important factor in the ship’s operating costs (50%), creates pressure to increase fares. However, that is not always a solution because traffic is reduced.
About the Port Infrastructure
- The Ports Infrastructure problems are already pointed out with detailed reports by the Masters’ Union.
- The Minister of Shipping has already announced the funding of 44 planned projects at a cost of EUR 195,21 million, as well as studies and interventions of EUR 200 million.
About the Hellenic Coastal fleet renewal
- Coastal shipping has to face two major challenges in the coming years: environment and an ageing fleet.
- Due to the seriousness of the issue, but also the island character of Greece, these issues are of particular importance and must be addressed seriously and carefully in steps at both National and European level.
- Ferry Operators waiting for the completion of the studies of the Hellenic Naval Chamber, in which the Association participates as well, for the renewal of the coastal fleet.
- Studies are also prepared by SEEN both on the effects of the new regulations on the tourist traffic and the development of the islands, as well as on technical and institutional issues related to the electrification of ships.
About the three (3) newbuilding state-of-the-art catamarans of Attica Group
- In 2022, the introduction of the three new high-speed crafts will upgrade services in the Saronic Gulf with new modern and environmentally friendly ships.
- This investment is the first step, considering the period that is taking place, for the renewal of the Greek Ferry Fleet.