Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2024

88 INTERVIEW Green innovation and sustainable travel Michele Witthaus asks Tallink Grupp’s Paavo Nõgene how the Estonian company is negotiating the multiple challenges facing ferry operators to chart a clean course for its fleet The ferry sector has faced a multitude of complex challenges in recent years, from the pandemic to global pressures on revenue and ever-changing security risks. “The slow volume recovery continues but shipping companies still need to manage risks through alternative revenue streams such as chartering,” says Paavo Nõgene, CEO of Tallink Grupp. “Meanwhile, the global geopolitical and security situation impacts both cargo and passenger transport, fuel prices are still high, and the logistics chains for ship fuels have changed significantly, resulting in higher fuel transport costs. Also, mounting climate legislation and related costs are putting financial pressure on shippers.” When it comes to the implications of these factors for the revenue from passengers travelling on the brand’s ships, Nõgene says: “Tallink’s overall aim isn’t to achieve ever higher passenger numbers, but rather to improve profitability. It is important to remember that often the numbers are not comparable. For example, in our case the number of passengers has reduced, but this is partly due to fewer ships operating on regular routes and some ships being chartered out. So, the passenger numbers are not the most reliable comparison figures to look at, but rather profitability figures and comparisons.” The company is working hard on growing its profitability with its newest fleet member, shuttle vessel MyStar, which boasts an upgraded customer experience with new passenger areas and facilities. “The aim is to enhance comfort, offer more personalised services and options, and ensure customers see the journey onboard our ships as even more enjoyable than reaching the destination,” says Nõgene. “This is accompanied by an even greater focus on offering an environmentally friendly way of travelling. We will continue to enhance and develop our services, making them even more smooth and seamless, more digital, sustainable and personalised.” Since 2009 Tallink Grupp has reduced its absolute carbon dioxide emissions by more than 50 per cent, an achievement on which Nõgene says the company is keen to improve. “Of course, we still have a long way to go to achieve the ambitious targets of carbon neutrality set by the International Maritime Organization, but work continues with significant milestones already achieved in this area.” The company is working towards environmental targets on several fronts. “We have made significant efforts in “ We will continue to enhance and develop our services, making them even more smooth and seamless”