Birka Line to sell one of its two cruise vessels to Cyprus
Birka Line, a shipping company based in the Åland Islands, is preparing to sell off one of its two cruise liners. With the sale of the 21,500 GRT Birka Princess, some 250 jobs will be lost. About half of those to be laid off are residents of the Åland Islands.
The Birka Princess is to be bought by the Cyprus-based tourism enterprise, Louis Public Company.
The purchase price is USD 35 million, or EUR 29.4 million.
The ship will change owners by the end of March. Birka Line justifies the selling of the vessel by the company's unprofitable operation and the changes that are taking place in the cruise line industry. Many of the passenger fleets operating in the region have faced red ink on their balance sheets of late, and Silja Line is currently up for sale.
Birka Line employs a total of 900 workers.
"We want to make sure we can continue our regular service in the Baltic Sea", said Birka Line managing director Anders Ingves on Monday.
The company will start personnel negotiations with labour unions immediately and will also set up a re-employment programme for the dismissed workers in conjunction with the Åland employment services.
The Birka Line vessels have primarily operated between the Åland capital Mariehamn and the Swedish capital Stockholm.
The Birka Princess vessel was built at the Finnish Valmet shipyard in 1986. Since then it has carried over five million passengers to various locations around the Baltic Sea. The company retains the 36,000 GRT Birka Paradise, completed and handed over in 2004.
The Birka Line Group also includes Birka Cargo, which operates six cargo vessels. With a 35 percent ownership, the Åland-based Eckerö shipping company is Birka Line's largest owner.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Silja Line to be sold (4.11.2005)