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500+ lose jobs as 49-year-old Birka Cruises goes out of business, Tallink Silja cuts hundreds too

More than 300 Finns are losing their jobs at two Baltic Sea passenger shipping lines.

Birka Cruises satamassa Tukholmassa.
The Birka Stockholm docked in the Swedish capital (file photo). Image: Timo Jaakonaho / Lehtikuva

The shipping line Eckerö is shutting down its Birka Cruises subsidiary. For nearly half a century, it has sailed between Stockholm, Sweden and Mariehamn in the autonomous Åland Islands, where the company is based.

More than 500 people will be made redundant. According to Ålands Radio, about half of them are Finns.

Birka Cruises said on Friday that customers will be reimbursed for any paid reservations.

'No profitability in foreseeable future'

CEO Björn Blomqvist told Ålands Radio there is no way to operate the line profitably in the foreseeable future.

Birka has plied the Mariehamn-Stockholm route for 49 years, owned by Eckerö since 2007.

Redundancy talks have begun with 509 employees, 466 of whom work aboard its sole vessel, the Birka Stockholm.

The ship has remained in port since March, when the Covid-19 pandemic began to spread in Finland and Sweden, where it is still claiming many lives.

The firm cites the pandemic as the primary reason for the decision.

Silja sends ship crews packing

Meanwhile rival shipping line Silja Line also announced job cuts on Friday.

The Swedish subsidiary of the Estonian-owned firm Tallink, known as Tallink Silja Sverige, will let go of 299 employees, 69 of them Finns.

Most of those pink-slipped have worked aboard the passenger ferries Silja Galaxy and Silja Symphony, which have sailed between Finland and Sweden.

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