The first year of the COVID-19 epidemic nearly emptied the typically busy Port of Helsinki of passengers. Nevertheless, the volumes of cargo transported through the Port, which have an important role in ensuring Finland’s security of supply in these trying times, were almost at normal levels.
Cargo traffic at a good level
Cargo traffic continued to flow through the port even in the exceptional circumstances. The majority of Finland’s consumer goods and certain raw materials and supplies for industrial purposes are transported through the Port.
“The impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on cargo traffic was less severe than we initially expected,” says Port of Helsinki CEO Ville Haapasaari. “In April and May, there was significantly less traffic, but towards the end of the year, cargo traffic picked up again and we managed to achieve the volumes of last year in the final months of the year.” “Port of Helsinki cargo traffic totalled 13.3 million tonnes. Although this is 8.5% less than last year, we are satisfied with it, all things considered.” The unitised traffic* on the Tallinn route even increased by 6% compared to last year.
The volume of unitised cargo traffic transported through the Port of Helsinki was 11.1 million tonnes (-5.9%). Of the total unitised cargo traffic, 5.2 million tonnes was in import (-5.4%), and 5.9 million tonnes in export (-6.4%).
The volumes of cargo transported on lorries and trailers and in containers were 7.3 million tonnes (-4.7%) and 507,000 TEU**, respectively.
In 2020, the number of liner traffic*** passengers at the Port of Helsinki (which is at the same time the total number of passengers) was 4.8 million (-59% compared with the corresponding figure last year). The majority of the passengers, 4.1 million (-54.1%), travelled the route between Helsinki and Tallinn.
The number of passengers on the Stockholm route plunged as the ships between the capitals of Finland and Sweden were entirely out of operation from March onwards. The total number of passengers on this route was as low as 376,000 (-83.4%). The number of passengers on the route between Helsinki and Travemünde was 84,000 (-46.7%). There was no traffic at all on the route between Helsinki and Saint Petersburg. Cruise traffic suffered equally badly, as not a single international cruiser arrived in Helsinki in the entire year.
* unitised cargo = goods transported in large units, such as containers, trucks and trailers.
** TEU = twenty-foot equivalent unit.
*** liner traffic = regular ship traffic that operates according to a schedule, e.g. RoPax ferries operating between Tallinn and Helsinki.