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Business news, 07.05.2004 13:54

Tallink expects passengers to pick up

Tallink ferry Tallink's recently-opened ferry cruise linking St. Petersburg to Helsinki and Tallinn is the most important Baltic passenger route, despite low occupancy. Tallink, the third-largest Baltic ferry company, is the only one to operate the St. Petersburg-Helsinki-Tallinn route.

The Fantaasia, which makes the trip four times a week, can take up to 1,500 passengers and 309 vehicles. One recent Tuesday, there were just 32 people on board.

One reason for such a low head count is the difficulty Russians face getting visas to both Estonia and Finland, although Finland is just a transit destination. Tallink officials said they hope a new, more relaxed visa system will be in place in the coming months.

Americans and citizens of EU countries pass through both the Finnish and Estonian borders visa-free, making Finns the ferry's most frequent passengers.

Tallink hopes that eventually half of the passengers carried will be Russians. The triangle route links St. Petersburg to Helsinki and then Tallinn, with a mandatory ferry change. The return trip from Tallinn requires no change.

However, Silja Line, one of Tallink's major competitors, will soon open a new route connecting St. Petersburg-Tallinn-Rostock, Germany.

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