Security of supply as a priority in the midst of a crisis

The year 2020 is likely to be recorded as the year of the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis. It also brought significant changes to the Port of Helsinki. Dealing with the pandemic situation and ensuring Finland’s security of supply in the crisis took centre stage.

Helsingin SatamaOy:n toimitusjohtaja Ville Haapasaari Länsiterminaali 2 lähtöaulassa.We started the year on a positive note: passenger traffic was growing and cargo traffic had a fairly stable outlook. However, the pandemic and its countermeasures halted passenger traffic in March, and although travel recovered somewhat in the summer, the autumn brought the second wave of the virus and tightened restrictions. Goods, on the other hand, moved at almost the same pace, and the biggest threat scenarios regarding exports did not materialise. The end of the year, in particular, was surprisingly good in cargo traffic.
As the pandemic progressed, we re-evaluated the Port’s action plans. We focused on dealing with the difficult pandemic situation and ensuring security of supply. We supported our customers’ traffic and worked in close cooperation with the authorities. We were faced with many surprising situations, for which we quickly sought solutions to together.

The dramatic drop in passenger traffic led to a sharp drop in the Port of Helsinki’s turnover development. The situation forced us to launch a savings programme in the spring, in which projects were prioritised and postponed, service purchases were reduced and we also had to temporarily lay off our staff. However, our spearhead projects progressed with determination. Here at the Port we are ready for action once we recover from the COVID-19.

The deepening of the Vuosaari fairway was started. It will secure the future growth of Vuosaari Harbour’s capacity and traffic volumes. Similarly, projects supporting the objectives of the carbon neutrality programme were carried out as planned.

In the long run, it is important for the Port of Helsinki to ensure profitable growth as a functional part of Helsinki. Over the course of the year, we worked extensively at the Mayor’s request to develop various scenarios for the location of our harbours. The reports and the options drawn up based on them, including their implications, provide good conditions for political decision-making during 2021. We have the preconditions to start carrying out the necessary investment projects. The most important thing for both us and our customers is to have a long-term view of the development of the harbours and the traffic passing through them.

The company’s turnover ended up 30% below the previous year’s level, resulting in a loss for the company. The year 2021 will also be challenging in terms of performance. However, the Port of Helsinki is resilient and we will survive this crisis. We believe that cargo traffic will return to normal by 2022 and we believe it will grow in the long run. The recovery of passenger traffic depends on getting the pandemic under control. Sea travel is likely to begin to recover in the second half of 2021, and short-distance travel is expected to recover to pre-crisis levels within 2–3 years.

During the challenging year, we have been able to respond quickly to the exceptional situations in cooperation with our customers and interest groups. It has required flexibility and adjustment of operations. For this, we owe a thank you to our own staff and all the companies working at the harbours and their employees.

Ville Haapasaari, CEO