A LOOONG-TERM INVESTMENT

In the middle of the ongoing pandemic, ferry company Stena Line started the construction of their two new longer E-Flexer ferries in China as well as started the lengthening of Stena Lagan in Turkey. Both projects shows how Stena Line invests long-term in modernising its large European fleet of ferries. Stena Line has not yet revealed the names or the routes.

In April and May, during the worst part of the ongoing pandemic, Stena Line started the construction of a further two new longer E-Flexer ferries. The vessels are planned to be delivered in 2022 from the CMI Jinling Weihai Shipyard in China. They are the last of five vessels of the E-Flexer series that Stena Line designed and built in collaboration with Stena RoRo.

“Despite a tough time during the covid-19 pandemic, we have shown how important Stena Line is to linking Europe’s freight and passenger transport and vital supply lines. We believe in continued growth and demand in all our markets and with the new ferries in place we will be well equipped for the future” says Stena Line’s CEO Niclas Mårtensson.

Of the first three vessels, the first two: Stena Estrid and Stena Edda, have already entered service on the Irish Sea earlier this year. The third vessel, Stena Embla, is in the final stages of construction and is expected to be delivered in November and go in to service on the Belfast-Liverpool route according to plan in early 2021.

The two larger E-Flexer vessels will be 240 meters long with a load capacity of 3,600 length meters, compared to the first three which are 214 meters long and have a load capacity of 3,100 length meters. In total, the larger vessels also get 50 % more cabins and beds, 30% increased passenger capacity and an additional 15% cargo capacity. The two vessels will be equipped with shore power connections to reduce emissions and the connection also enables a conversion to electric hybrid ferry in the future.

“We continue to build on our successful RoPax concept with a mix of freight and passengers. By modernizing and standardizing our vessel fleet, we ensure a reliable operation can in an even better way support and grow with our customers”, says Niclas Mårtensson.

HOW HAS STENA LINE BEEN AFFECTED BY COVID-19?

The last six months have been incredibly tough. Covid-19 hit us hard in March and we have been forced to take many drastic and tough decisions along the way in order to protect the future of Stena Line. We have been sailing with the majority of the fleet through the whole pandemic kept the vital supply lines in Europe open. That makes me proud. Our first priority has been the safety of our passengers and employees. 

Already in January we saw signs of the pandemic in China where we build our new vessels but we didn’t realise at that time just how much it would affect us. In February we launched the first set of safety measures to minimize the spread of the coronavirus onboard our vessels, in our terminals and offices.

In mid-March we saw a sharp decline in passenger and freight volumes when countries started to lock down and imposed travel restrictions. Since then Corona has been part of the business in many ways. We have kept sailing and implemented a cost saving programme including laying up vessels, close down two routes and unfortunately also made around 1,300 employees redundant around the company.  

During the summer the freight volumes have picked up again and countries have opened up more. But we are still struggling and our vessels are sailing with very limited number of passengers, which is of course not the way we want it during our summer peak season.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE GREATEST CHALLENGE?

The uncertainty. When will the pandemic end and will it end? Travel restrictions, quarantine rules and other safety measures have been different in many countries and changing all the time. But the hardest part has been decisions that affects peoples work and life. I am proud of all our employees and the way they have been handling this challenging situation.

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE OF STENA LINE LOOK LIKE?

We believe the worst is now behind us even though the future is uncertain. Passenger volumes will remain low for a long period and we are adapting to that from manning and cost perspective but also by changing our offer to become more of a transport product rather than cruise going forward.

We will continue to deliver on our vision, “Connecting Europe for a Sustainable Future” and continue to be an important part of the European logistics network and societies. With the aim to return to profit we will continue to deliver great travel experiences and a safe journey to all our passengers and freight customers.

E-FLEXERSThe construction of the two larger vessels (3D models in picture) began with steel cutting ceremonies on April 2 and May 29 at the yard in Weihai, China. Keel laying is planned for mid-October 2020 and delivery during 2022.
UNIQE LENGTHENING PROJECT OF STENA LAGAN AND STENA MERSEYIn addition to the five new builds another two existing vessels in the fleet, Stena Lagan and Stena Mersey, will be extended by 36 metres and modified with efficient drive-through capabilities for loading and unloading in two levels. In total the modifications will increase the cargo capacity by 30% and add on a total of 75 cabins. The two vessels are expected to be back in traffic in Stena Line's network in 2021.
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