Shipping firm Tallink Grupp saw passenger numbers increase by 4.5% year-on-year over 2023, but cargo transport plummeted in a “competitive, weak environment”.
Over the full year to December, the operator carried over 5.7 million passengers on its routes.
While Estonia-Finland and Estonia-Sweden saw increased traffic, Finland-Sweden routes saw declines due to Tallink’s Galaxy I vessel being out of service.
Passenger vehicle numbers increased by 2.6% to reach 840,881 over the course of the year.
Despite the “slow and steady” growth, cargo transportation collapsed by 20% to 323,990 units, from 409,769 in 2022.
“In 2022 we saw a sharp increase in passenger numbers across our routes with the last of the Covid restrictions lifted, then 2023 has been a year of more slow and steady recovery,” said Tallink CEO, Paavo Nõgene.
“We are not seeing sharper increases in passenger number growth due to some of our vessels currently still not operating on our core routes, but chartered out.
“This still makes perfect sense for us from an operational and risk reduction point of view as the markets and demand are not ready yet for increased capacity on our routes.
“Customer spending continues to be under pressure from price hikes in every walk of life and the wider global security and economic situation makes people careful with their spending.
“However, as we demonstrated last year with the addition of Victoria I to the Tallinn-Helsinki route in October, we are ready to add more capacity to our routes quickly and flexibly when we see demand and need, and our passengers are ready to jump on board as soon as we bring back vessels to our routes gradually.”
Tallink seeing growth after ‘many challenging years’
Nõgene added that a “big positive” for the year was the addition of MyStar to the Tallinn-Helsinki route.
“The newest member of our fleet has proved to be exactly the draw that we needed to bring customers – old and new – back to the Tallinn-Helsinki route after many challenging years.
“The new ship recently celebrated its one-year anniversary on the route and is already much loved by both our passengers and crew and the green bridge between Tallinn and Helsinki has proved itself already.”
Looking ahead, he said a focus on boosting cargo would enable the business to build on the steady growth seen.
“As ever, Tallink Grupp will continue to work hard to guarantee vital transport links for people and goods between Estonia and Finland, Estonia and Sweden, and Finland and Sweden even at a time when the economic situations are challenging.
“The vessels and crew at Tallink Silja Line are waiting for both past and new customers and fans and we look forward to seeing everyone on board.”
Last year, Tallink celebrated reaching one million members in its Club One loyalty programme with a special event on board its Megastar vessel.