Following tonight’s departure from Finland, Stena Line’s Norvik (Nynäshamn) – Hanko, ferry route has ceased.
URD departed Hanko just before 20:00 and will arrive in Sweden tomorrow morning around 08:30. Sister-ship, STENA GOTHICA made her final trip from Finland last night, when URD made the last trip in the other direction, from Sweden.
Stena Line announced the closure of the route just two weeks ago.
Falling freight and unequal playing field for ETS
Stena Line launched the new route between Nynäshamn in Sweden and Hanko in Finland on 1 February 2022 in response to “heavy market demand and on direct request from existing logistical network customers”. Initially a single ship service was provided by the URD. STENA GOTHICA joined the route in May 2022.
At the time of the launch, Johan Edelman, Trade Director Baltic Sea North Stena Line said;
”By Urd’s departure to Finland, we close a gap in the transport network. This new service is primarily an outcome of customer dialogue and market demand. But to bring it to life you also need to be somewhat entrepreneurial, and it requires hard work, a dedicated team and strong commitment to make a new route a success. So far the response has been very positive which shows that we made the right decision.”Stena Line Press Release 2 February 2022
However, the timing of the start of the route soon coincided with the start of the Ukraine War. In closing the route, Stena Line said that demand had not developed as expected and that there was market saturation.
Stena Line also highlighted the Finnish government’s decision to grant an exemption from the European Union Emissions Trading System (ETS) for vessels trading via Åland. ETS is being introduced from 1 January 2024, effectively placing a tax on CO2 emissions on large ships sailing to EU ports – a process known as “purchasing allowances”. From 2024 companies will purchase allowances for 40% of their total emissions. This will increase to 70% in 2025 and eventually reach 100% in 2026.
Stena describe the island exemption for Åland as creating an “uneven commercial landscape” with a clear advantage for trade via the island. This means that a competing Sweden – Finland ferry line such as Viking Line’s Stockholm – Helsinki (via Åland) route is at a considerable financial advantage, despite using elderly tonnage.
As a consequence of the market developments and the outlook for the immediate future, Stena Line decided to discontinue operations on the route.
Stena Line is currently in dialogue with trade unions and those involved in the route. All passengers with tickets booked after 20 October have been offered a refund. They will also be given help to secure other means of transport if necessary.
Johan Edelman, Trade Director Baltic Sea North, Stena Line said;
“It is with a heavy heart we have reached the point, where we have to discontinue our route between Sweden and Finland. This has been a very difficult decision, but after considering all aspects we are convinced that we have made the right decision”Stena Line Press Release 6 September 2023
This evening, STENA GOTHICA departed Norvik for a regulatory dry-dock at the Western/BLRT Shipyard at Klaipeda. Meanwhile, URD is due to lay-up at the Stena Line managed port at Ventspils.
Stena Line has said that both vessels on the route will be redeployed in the charter market or within the Stena Line fleet. It is known that the STENA GOTHICA and URD have recently been offered by brokers.
Given the age of the two ships, the URD dating from 1981 and STENA GOTHICA from 1982, it remains unclear if there is any possibility for a future role for the ships in the Stena Line fleet. However, refit cover or helping to open a Birkenhead – Dublin route seem like possibilities if they are to see further use in the Stena Line fleet.
URD and STENA GOTHICA have a capacity for 1,600 vehicle lane metres and 176 passengers. There are 46 cabins, 37 reclining seats, a restaurant seating 114 passengers and a 60-seat bar.
Stena Line’s other Baltic Sea routes, Nynäshamn – Ventspils, Travemünde – Liepāja and Gdynia – Karlskrona are unaffected by the Finnish route closure.