Higher costs, lower revenues and a spate of unfortunate events cast Norway’s venerable coastal shipping line Hurtigruten into rough seas last year. The line logged a heavy loss, twice as big as the one the year before, but now hopes for smoother sailing.
This year also seems off to a turbulent start, with recent reports of a contested headquarters move from Narvik to Tromsø, another round of looming layoffs and a quarrel with authorities over interpretation of its route service agreement. Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported that last year’s loss of NOK 310.2 million resulted from a fire on board the vessel Nordlys, write-offs forced by illegal subsidies and more from losses on the troubled charter of the vessel Finnmarken to an offshore oil project in Australia.
Slight declines in passenger counts and big jumps in costs not least for fuel also caused problems, but company officials point to an upturn in the last few months of last year and in winter cruising overall. “We used to have near-empty ships sin the winter, now the winter traffic is quite good,” Hurtigruten boss Daniel Skjeldam told DN.
He doesn’t foresee any major new cost items this year and hopes last year’s write-offs mean the worst is over and a period of smoother sailing looms ahead. “We’re into a more stable phase now,” he told DN.