The Port of Helsinki as Finland’s gate into the world

We have now lived through another exceptional year of the coronavirus, and the Port of Helsinki prepared for the year with careful optimism. The hope was that vaccinations would bring passengers back to ships before the summer. In reality, the early year turned out to be very quiet, and the new virus variant made the volume of passenger traffic in the summer season a disappointment.

One beacon of light for sea travel was the reopening of the Stockholm route after a long break. Towards the autumn, sea travel picked up some steam, but it ended up being cut back radically by a new phase in the pandemic. All in all, the number of passengers travelling through the Port of Helsinki, less than 4 million people, was an up to 70% reduction from pre-pandemic times.

Ville Haapasaari, Port of Helsinki CEO.

The importance of cooperation was highlighted further in 2021 so that health and safety arrangements could be carried out in accordance with the quickly changing rules. We succeeded well in this cooperation with the authorities, and our passenger satisfaction remained at a good level. Furthermore, our customers applauded us for our reactions to the challenges of COVID-19.

Fortunately, in early 2022 the situation is substantially better than a year ago. A large proportion of Finnish and European people have already received two or even three vaccinations. We believe that passenger numbers will start to grow over the course of 2022, returning to their pre-pandemic levels at the end of 2023 or in 2024 at the latest.

The hole that the COVID-19 put the European economic development and the Finnish export industry into was overcome in 2021. The Port of Helsinki’s cargo traffic also recovered well, and RoRo traffic, in particular, increased strongly. In terms of unitized cargo, we broke our all-time record with a total of 12.1 million tonnes. 2022 is also looking bright for cargo traffic.

The company’s turnover remained at the 2020 level, and we still had to carry out cost adjustment procedures. Despite them, our result was 15 million euros in the negative, as we wanted to set our sights on recovering from the pandemic and preparing for the return of passengers.

As the year went on, we remained determined and continued promoting numerous development projects despite the situation. We worked hard to improve efficiency and, in particular, see environmental investments through. Our finest achievement over the course of the year was the deepening of the Vuosaari fairway together with the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency. The deepened fairway makes it possible for larger vessels to visit Vuosaari than before. The efficiency of maritime traffic brings about environmental benefits. Our parking services for passengers and the pleasantness of our facilities were improved over the course of the year – anticipating the recovery of travel.

Our owner, the City of Helsinki, renewed its City Strategy in September. The importance of port operations was acknowledged excellently, as was the fact that the Port’s long-term development programme supports the City’s growth strategy. We had spent the last three years or so coming up with scenarios and surveys regarding how Helsinki’s port functions should be reorganised.

We are now happy that the Port’s development programme was greenlit by the City Board in January 2022. The programme provides us and our customers with operational guidelines far into the future. For us, the 2020s will be filled with work that is significant for the Helsinki metropolitan area and Finland at large.

Now, with the third year of the coronavirus kicked off, I can say that the Port and its customers have done well in these demanding and changing situations. For that, I would like to thank the Port of Helsinki’s own staff and customers, as well as our cooperation partners. We have proven the significance of smooth cooperation!

Ville Haapasaari
CEO of the Port of Helsinki