- The Hellenic Ministry of Shipping and Island Policy decided further financial support to the Greek Ferry Operators by EUR 12 million
- The total financial support package for the Hellenic Coastal Shipping is EUR 67 million
- A series of measures for the support of seafarers are still into force (special purpose compensation, unemployment benefits, extension of the insurance of unemployed seafarers, subsidization of the employer’s contributions for the active seafarers, partially financial support -by the State- for the rents of the unemployed seafarers
- The measures to support maritime labour have a total cost of EUR 15 million
A study about the effects of Covid 19 pandemic on the coastal shipping industry will be conducted by a consulting firm on behalf of the Hellenic Ministry of Shipping and Island Policy.
According to the Ministry’s decision, the study will be entitled “Study of impact analysis of the COVID-19 pandemic in the coastal shipping industry” and will be carried out by “Deloitte Business Solutions” at a cost of EUR 24,800. This project is also co-financed by the European Social Fund, the European Regional Development Fund as well as the Cohesion Fund under the Operational Program “Technical Assistance 2014-2020”.
The consulting firm has two months to prepare and deliver the study from the date of signing the contract.
On August 2, the Hellenic Ministry of Shipping and Island Policy announced the change in the health protocol with an increase of the passenger capacity on board coastal ferries to 80%.
The protocol on the ships with cabins is also increased to 85%, while the minimum distance of 1,5 meters is maintained between the passengers.
The passenger and crew cabins would accommodate up to four people if they are first- or second-degree relatives or people with disabilities with their escort.
At the same time, it was decided the mandatory use of face mask –from August 4 to August 18, 2020- inside and outside the ferries.
The passenger protocol in the high-speed crafts will be also increased to 80% only if they have High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters and their installation and operation is certified according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
The shipowner, the operator and the ferry masters are responsible for the preparation of the aircraft-type seats coverage plan for each ship. Passengers, masters and crew members are required to comply with COVID-19 outbreak prevention and control measures before boarding, during boarding and when disembarking on passenger – car ferries that perform domestic trips.
For any violation of the provisions and measures the fines imposed are:
- to passengers, naval agents and crew members the administrative fine is 150 euros
- to ship-owners, operators and ship masters the administrative fine is 1.000 euros.
On June 10, 2020 the Minister of Shipping and Island Policy Mr Giannis Plakiotakis stated during a press conference that the Ministry’s main priorities remain the financial support of Coastal Shipping as well as the utilization of Greece’s ten major ports.
As far as the financial support to the country’s ferry operators is concerned, he noted that the Ministry of Shipping is in consultation with the Ministry of Finance and they are preparing a joint proposal to the European Commission, in order to compensate the ferry operators that were financially affected by the pandemic, with community funds.
At the same time, he added that the development of ferry connections is a strategic choice for the government, which is also considering further support for coastal shipping.
Referring to the ports, he stressed that the plans for their development are proceeding normally, as the interest of the investors remains strong. It is noted that the American interest in the port of Alexandroupolis is intense and the procedures will begin immediately, while the Grimaldi Group has expressed interest for the port of Igoumenitsa.
The Hellenic Ministry of Shipping and Island Policy decided to provide more than EUR 33.7 million in liquidity to coastal shipping, as well as island entrepreneurship, in order to alleviate them from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Specifically, it was decided:
- Support island businesses -eligible for the transport equivalent- with EUR 11,2 million.
- An additional EUR 15 million has been secured to ensure maritime transport services to the island regions. Since the implementation of the relevant ministerial decision, EUR 3.5 million have already been contracted for the minimum shipping service of the island areas in 29 lines of the national and local shipping network.
- Advance payment equal to 50% of the leases for public service contracts in coastal shipping for the months February, March and April. The Ministry estimates that this amount will reach EUR 7.5 million.
On April 16, the Hellenic Ministry of Shipping and Island Policy decided to subsidize the Greek Ferry Companies with EUR 15 million in order to compensate them for their losses due to Covid-19.
However, the Greek Ship-owners Association for Passenger Ships (SEEN) sent a letter to the Minister, explaining why these funds are not enough for the sector. They agreed that this is a positive measure, but they firmly disagreed with the procedure (bureaucratic and unnecessary) as well as the amount of compensation provided which does not cover the actual costs of their ships.
According to SEEN the necessary compensation based on the routes which are obliged to perform today, is estimated at EUR 15 million per month, when the Ministry’s decision to compensate them on a monthly basis with EUR 7 million (EUR 8 million less per month). SEEN also noted that in the period 21/3 to 30/4, the costs of their ships after the deduction of the revenues are estimated at EUR 20 million while the Ministry’s Decision provided only EUR 1.6 million for the same period.
For that reason, they emphasized on the need for immediate and substantial support of the Hellenic Coastal Shipping in order to avoid the collapse of the sector underlying that the problem affects the Adriatic service as well.
In view of the above they asked from the Minister to take sufficient and substantial measures in order to support the Hellenic Coastal Lines as well as the International lines (Adriatic Service):
- Compensation of the active ships based on their real expenses (minus the income), as these have already been notified by the Ferry Companies
- Compensate the ferries for the period from March 21 to the date of conclusion of the new Public Service contracts according to the Decision of April 16, 2020
- Compensation of the inactive ferries according to their actual costs
- Increase of the subsidies of the services that are executed today with Public Service Contracts
- Compensate also the Adriatic Service, as the lines between Greece and Italy are of great importance for the import and export trade of the country, offering valuable services.