Finnlines sees TRA2020 as a great forum for introducing their business to an international audience

Finnlines ship

Finnlines, a gold sponsor of TRA2020, is a leading shipping operator of ro-ro and passenger services in the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the Bay of Biscay. The company’s passenger-freight vessels offer services from Finland to Germany and via the Åland Islands to Sweden, as well as from Sweden to Germany. Finnlines’ ro-ro vessels operate in the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the Bay of Biscay.

We spoke about the Transport Research Arena 2020 in Helsinki with Tom Pippingsköld, CFO of Finnlines.

What do you expect from TRA 2020?

Transport sector is on the move, playing an important role in global economy and affecting economic growth. Shipping is a global business and undoubtedly the most sustainable way of transportation. Around 90% of the world trade is shipped by sea but shipping sector’s emissions represent only 2.2% of the CO2 emissions produced globally.

In the past ten years, we have steered investments to sustainable development. Six ships have been lengthened to decrease energy consumption per transported unit. We have invested in environmental technology to further reduce Finnlines fleet’s emissions. And most recently, we ordered five new green vessels. In addition, we have increased the efficiency and effectiveness of our processes and implemented, among others, two major ERP systems.

TRA2020 provides us an excellent opportunity to discuss topics which are important to us. The conference is a great forum to debate, and to introduce our business to an international audience – researchers and policy makers as well as industry leaders.

From your point of view, why do we need to rethink transport now?

In a sector where regulatory and many other decisions are mainly made at international level, it is necessary to develop operations and execute initiatives that contribute to sustainable transportation.

Finnlines welcomes IMO’s strategy to reduce CO2 emissions from ships by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008. This agreement is an important driver, a regulatory framework, for the development of our processes.

At Finnlines, we are continuously developing our way of working. We have a deep understanding of our operations and we can assure that environmental aspects will continue to have a strong impact on all our actions. We have invested in energy efficiency and green technologies and our newbuilding programme focuses on many energy-saving features.

The Grimaldi Group, which Finnlines is a part of, is supporting several environmental R&D projects on the EU level. By sharing knowledge across Europe, we can learn from the best practices.

What is the role of the Baltic sea in the international passenger and freight traffic?

The Baltic Sea is important for all its surrounding countries. Carriage of goods seaways reduces congestion and noise on roads.

Approximately 90% of Finland’s exports and 80% imports are transported via seaways. Frequent liner traffic is particularly important for processed goods. Finnlines’ ro-pax service combines cargo and passenger traffic in an eco-efficient way and the high utilisation rate in routes and vessels guarantees the possibility to travel in a sustainable and responsible way.

Finnlines’ Helsinki-Travemünde route is in key position in the trailer traffic between Finland and Germany as around 40% of lorries and trailers travel on Finnlines ships. Capacity utilisation varies during the year, but the strength in Finnlines’ ro-pax concept lies in the fact that when cargo volumes decrease slightly during the summer, the number of passengers increases.

Sea transport is the most environmentally friendly form of transport, particularly when transporting large amounts of cargo, including high and heavy cargo. The Finnlines ro-pax concept combines cargo and passenger traffic in a unique way.

How does Finnlines take sustainability and climate change into account in its operations?

Finnlines supports the IMO’s (International Maritime Organization) GHG strategy and the goal to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008. We are committed to long-term efforts for the environment. Environmental responsibility is a part of our daily operations and includes everyday actions – like timetable and route planning or running on optimal speed, load and trim.

We have clear emission goals, and the total CO2 emissions of the Finnlines’ fleet have already decreased by approximately 30% compared to 2008. Route-specific reductions can be even greater due to better capacity utilisation.

In the past decade, we have invested over EUR 1 billion in energy efficiency and green technologies. During 2014–2017, we invested in propulsion and reblading, as well as in emission abatement systems on 21 ships. During 2018, six ro-ro vessels were lengthened, which decreased energy consumption per transport unit as the capacity increased by 30% compared to the original vessel.

Our ongoing EUR 500 million newbuilding programme, which includes three green hybrid ro-ro vessels as well as two eco-friendly Superstar ro-pax vessels, will further increase Finnlines’ energy efficiency. The vessels will be built with the top technical and environmental views in mind. In addition to lithium-ion battery banks, which enable ‘zero emissions in port’, they will be equipped with several advanced technologies to save energy and thus reduce emissions further. The ro-ro vessels are expected to be delivered during 2021–2022 and the Superstar ro-pax vessels are set to start in traffic in 2023.