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World needs shipping and reliable sea transport

Despite the economic slow-down towards the year end in 2022, freight volumes were on a fairly good level and passenger travel recovered to pre-pandemic figures. The Finnlines Group’s revenue in 2022 amounted to EUR 736.1 million, an increase of 27 per cent compared to the corresponding period in 2021. The result for the reporting period was EUR 133.3 (74.7 in 2021) million.

The Finnlines Group’s gross capital expenditure in the reporting period totalled EUR 223.8 (110.6) million. Group’s return on capital employed (ROCE) was 11.6 (7.2) per cent.

Due to improved cash flow Net interest-bearing debt/EBITDA (rolling 12 months) ratio amounted to 1.7 (2.2) and the equity ratio calculated from the balance sheet was 60.3 (60.4) per cent. Finnlines Group’s liquidity position is strong and at the end of the period, cash and cash equivalents together with unused committed credit facilities amounted to EUR 323.9 (212.0) million.

Celebrating fleet renewal and 75-year anniversary

Finnlines’ EUR 500-million green newbuilding programme reached a milestone when all three Eco-class hybrid ro-ro vessels were delivered and entered traffic during the summer of 2022. These hybrid ro-ro vessels are not only the largest in the company fleet so far, but they transport cargo in a more sustainable manner. Solar panels, an air lubrication system, a high-powered battery bank, and efficient main engines with emission abatement technology reduce the carbon footprint and other air emissions more efficiently than technical solutions on the older vessels do.

Once the three Eco-series hybrid ro-ro vessels had started to operate in the Baltic–North Sea–Bay of Biscay services, several vessels were assigned to other routes. Some changes had already taken place when all operations in Russia were suspended in early March. Today, Finnlines can fully meet customers’ request for capacity and offer sufficient frequency on all its lines.

It was a great year of festivities since the Eco-class hybrid ro-ro vessels were named officially in the prestigious presence of godmothers in September. While Finnlines took delivery of new eco-friendly hybrid vessels, it also celebrated 75 years of shipping on 20 September 2022.

More eco-friendly transport services and route expansion

The Superstar ro-pax newbuilding programme has proceeded well in China. Both vessels have been launched and they are expected to be delivered during the 3rd and 4th quarter of 2023. The Superstar vessels will increase the cargo and passenger capacity by 30 per cent and 50 per cent, respectively, on the Finland–Sweden route and they will offer a higher service level than the current two vessels. Finnlines continues to focus on cargo, but on passenger side will also address a wider customer segment, such as foot passengers. With these modern and high-class cargo-passenger vessels we can offer an attractive alternative for passenger travel to inhabitants on the Åland Islands, who are dependent on regular sea connections, and for travellers from Sweden and Finland.

Finnlines expanded its route network in mid-July when a new service was launched between Rosslare, Ireland, and Zeebrügge, Belgium. The route is operated by one ro-ro vessel, which offers two weekly departures from both ports. The route provides a crucial link for Irish industry, but the European industries also have an easier access to and from Ireland via transhipment in Zeebrügge.

“Finnlines with its customers safeguards the national security of supply in a cost-effective, sustainable and responsible manner.”

Finnlines is close to finalising arrangements to open a new connection between Sweden and Poland. Poland is a fastgrowing economy and trade between Sweden and Poland has grown steadily.

Reliable partner and efficient sea transport services

During the last years we have confronted several unforeseen events. Nevertheless, Finnlines has managed to adapt to challenges and rapid changes as the company has several assets to weather the downturn. First, our owner, the Grimaldi Group, is a global operator with deep knowledge of shipping and has strong commitment to develop and expand its operations. Their fleet offers flexibility to re-arrange vessels to routes where demand for capacity changes and Grimaldi network offers our clients a wider choice. Finnlines fleet can carry several types of cargo and is also able to provide special transport services for more challenging cargo.

Forest industry remains an important industrial and export sector in Finland and Finnlines has transported wood-processing products since the company was founded.

Furthermore, our employees are competent and experienced. Whatever their roles and positions are in the organisation, we support and encourage professional growth. As the Finnlines fleet grows, 200 new jobs are open on vessels flying the Finnish flag. We have launched a recruitment campaign to find skilled professionals for the new vessels.

Future outlook

Shipping is crucial for Finland as about 90 per cent of exports and 80 per cent of its imports are shipped by sea. Carriers, such as Finnlines with its customers, safeguard the national security of supply in a cost-effective, sustainable and responsible manner.

Over many years, Finnlines has made massive investments, over one billion euros, in its existing fleet, in newbuilds and in clean technologies. Yet, we need to improve our performance further to reach the ambitious targets set by the EU and IMO. It is necessary to continue to research and develop new solutions and hybrid technologies as fuels with zero GHG emissions are not yet commercially available and the engines under design are still being tested.

Looking ahead, Finnlines is well-placed to compete with its fleet and will continue to provide safe and reliable shipping services.

I warmly thank all Finnlines’ employees for their excellent contribution. I also want to thank our customers and other stakeholders for their trust and support. The world needs efficient and sustainable shipping, and we feel Finnlines through its ongoing investments and efficient operations stands in the forefront in providing it.

Tom Pippingsköld, President and CEO

Tom Pippingsköld