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Corona crisis sinks Viking Line's half-year results

The company's biggest declines were in the second quarter, when travel restrictions were at their peak, the firm says.

Viking Grace Maarianhaminan saaristossa
Viking Grace near Mariehamn, Åland (file photo). Image: Markku Ojala / AOP

On Thursday Finnish shipping company Viking Line revealed just how hard its business was hit by the coronavirus crisis in its half-year financial report, issued Thursday.

The company's turnover during this past January-June was less than half than during the same period the year before, or about 97.5 million euros, compared to 227 million euros in the first half of 2019.

In a statement, the firm's president and CEO, Jan Hanses, said that the biggest declines took place during the second quarter (April-June) when government-issued travel restrictions were at their most stringent.

During that period, according to the financial statement, Viking Line's sales were just one-sixth of what they were in the second quarter of 2019.

The company's net sales collapsed during the second quarter to 22.6 million euros, compared to 131.1 million euros the previous year. Meanwhile, Q2 passenger operations revenues declined by 89.2 percent to 12.8 million euros.

"The Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on society was increasingly apparent during the second quarter, and the virus has continued to affect individuals, companies and markets. The second quarter of the year was completely dominated by the travel restrictions introduced in March and gradually eased starting in mid-May. At the end of the quarter, in the middle of Viking Line’s peak season, the restrictions on travel between Finland and Sweden were still in place," Hanses said.

The firm noted that it was able to reduce costs by furloughing a large proportion of its staff in Finland

The company said that funding it received from the National Emergency Supply Agency (Nesa) during the period of 19 March-18 June, enabled it to continue operations of cargo shipments on four of its vessels between Helsinki and Tallinn, Estonia and Turku, Åland and Stockholm, Sweden.

The CEO praised his staff's flexibility, and acknowledged the difficulties they have faced.

"Employees have shouldered a heavy burden with the furloughs carried out in all the countries we operate in. Some furloughs were part-time but most were full-time. Our employees’ engagement as these jobs were being organized has been admirable. I really appreciate their considerable efforts during these tough times," Hanses said in the statement.

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