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Viking Line says Covid caused "serious deterioration"

In what usually is the ferry company's high season, the firm's operating income was -7.8 million euros last quarter.

M/S Amorella Viking Linen terminaalissa Turun satamassa.
Viking Line terminal at Turku Harbour. Image: Saana Sjöblom-Hasselblatt / Yle

Passenger and cargo ferry company Viking Line said the coronavirus crisis continued to cause its business to worsen. In its third quarter report issued on Wednesday, the firm said it had an operating income of -35.2 million euros during January to September.

Meanwhile, the firm's Q3 sales of 56.6 million euros were significantly lower than the same period a year ago, 153.8 million euros.

Viking Line's operating income during the third quarter totalled -7.8 million euros, compared to 2019 Q3 income of 26.2 million euros.

However, due to widespread furloughs, the company managed to reduce salaries and employment benefits costs.

The firm's president and CEO, Jan Hanses, said that announcements from authorities regarding virus-related travel and other restrictions were not clear and also contributed to lower passenger numbers.

CEO: "Inconsistent communications" from authorities

Hanses said that Q3 began with a relaxation of coronavirus-related travel restrictions but that business slowed again after new quarantine rules were put in place during the second week of August. The CEO blamed inconsistent communications about restrictions and quarantine recommendations for the situation.

"Traffic deteriorated significantly early in the second week of August, when the Finnish authorities announced plans for stricter quarantine rules for people entering the country, mainly from Sweden. These rules varied in August and were then relaxed in September so that entry from Sweden was allowed. However, this only lasted two weeks, after which time the restrictions were reintroduced. All of this unclear and inconsistent communication from the authorities to some extent affected travel and sales starting in mid-August," Hanses said in the statement.

Viking Line's report noted that the Finnish government had approved state guarantees on the company's liquidity loans up to 38.7 million euros.

"Using these liquidity loans, Viking Line plans to secure the company’s liquidity and thus ensure the continued financial stability of operations during the situation caused by the coronavirus crisis," the company stated in the release.

In addition to the Finnish state guarantees, commercial banks are guaranteeing the ferry firm 4.3 million euros.

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