Finnpilot in 2021: Reliable pilotage service amid the COVID-19 crisis
As the pandemic continued, concerns about the health security of our personnel became emphasised within our international operational environment. We were able, through diligent protective measures, active dialogue and accrued experience, to do our part to ensure the continuity of Finland’s foreign trade despite the pandemic. The year was a difficult one financially, as the volume of maritime transport remained lower than normal for the second year in a row.
Voluntary and doctor-mandated isolation and quarantines presented a challenge for our personnel resources, particularly toward the end of the year. As a national actor, we were able to cover these personnel needs by temporarily transferring staff from one pilot station to another. Even in this exceptional situation, we maintained the availability of pilotage services as our number one priority, in addition to safety. According to surveys, these two factors are also top priorities for our customers. Despite occasional resource challenges, the availability of pilotage services remained at a normal level throughout the entire year.
A difficult year for business
The impact on the amount of Finland’s international imports and exports significantly affected vessel traffic and the number of pilotage assignments. The number of pilotage assignments in coastal waters decreased by 1.9% from the previous year. In the Saimaa region, the number increased by 5.3% from the previous year.
Cruise ship traffic remained nearly non-existent as a result of the halt in travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our traffic volume was further reduced by production stoppages caused by scheduled maintenance work in industrial facilities and the closing of Neste’s refinery in Naantali at the beginning of the year. As a result of the refinery shutdown, Finnpilot initiated co-operation negotiations concerning 16 employees working in the Archipelago Sea region. The result of the negotiations was that we were able to compensate for the reduction in traffic in the Archipelago Sea through the reorganisation of internal resources in the Archipelago Sea and Bothnian Sea regions.
In terms of costs, the dramatic rise in the price of fuel put a strain on activities. During the year, savings were achieved by prioritising investments and reducing operating costs. Throughout the two-year pandemic, we managed to cut our costs by altogether more than half a million euro.
From the start of 2021, the pilotage fees were increased by an average of 3 per cent. The increase was implemented by raising the basic pilotage fee. International price comparisons indicate that Finnpilot’s pilotage services remain inexpensive.
Finnpilot’s turnover for the financial period was 35.2 million euro (2020: EUR 35.8 million). The operating profit was -1.2 million euro (2020: EUR -0.6 million).
Our first Responsibility Programme
We manage our responsibility in accordance with five separate themes: safety, environment, personnel, customers and society. For the development and management of CSR issues, we took a determined step towards improved planning and monitoring processes in the form of a new Responsibility Programme. Within the Responsibility Programme, each sub-area of responsibility was assigned its own objectives, content and indicators by which to measure our success. The programme will enable us to manage our responsibility work with an even more systematic approach.
We also set our own emission reduction target as part of our Responsibility Programme. According to the recommendations issued in October 2020 by the working group on fossil-free transport, as commissioned by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, our target is to halve the absolute amount of our overall emissions by 2030.
Developing safety on multiple fronts
Safety is a key aspect of all Finnpilot’s activities. During 2021, we paid special attention to the safety of pilot ladders and climbing safety. The measures enacted on the basis of pilot observations significantly improved ladder safety on vessels. We made significant progress in terms of climbing safety by requiring the use of a helmet during the embarkation and disembarkation of pilots as part of our equipment guidelines. The personnel participated actively in the process.
Remote pilotage projects advanced and the role of cyber security increased
We are generating the future of navigation together with the technology and maritime industries, research organisations, shipping companies and relevant authorities. Finnpilot’s role in the projects is to contribute navigational and pilotage expertise and, in particular, to provide viewpoints on how remote pilotage might be carried out safely in the future. The development of remote pilotage is included in the current Government Programme and the related development work is being carried out with consideration for the current needs within pilotage activities and improvements thereto. You can read more from our annual report about the digitalisation projects and other undertakings in which Finnpilot is involved.
As the pilotage process becomes more digitalised, the importance of cyber security grows. During 2021, the state as owner published a Cyber Security Development Programme for the purpose of creating a cyber security ecosystem in Finland that will provide vitality and growth and improve the sustainability of the digital society. As part of our risk management, we continuously develop our data security so as to have the capability to react rapidly to possible cyber security threats. During 2021, we commissioned an external audit of our cyber security and updated our documentation and guidelines on data security and data protection.
Please read more about our year here:
Kari Kosonen, CEO, email@example.com, tel. +358 40 741 4625
Timo Siren, Financial Director, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. +358 40 145 9848
Pilotage is a vital part of the chain of logistics required for Finland’s international trade and security of supply. Pilotage ensures navigational safety and efficiency within Finland’s rocky fairways. The added safety that pilotage provides within Finland’s narrow archipelago fairways is pivotal in terms of preventing accidents.
In Finland, pilotage services are the responsibility of the state-owned special assignment company Finnpilot Pilotage Ltd. Finnpilot provides pilotage services in accordance with Finland’s Pilotage Act and assumes responsibility, as prescribed by the Pilotage Act, for other tasks and obligations related to pilotage within the coastal waters and Saimaa region in Finland. The costs accrued by the organisation of pilotage activities and maintenance of the national service network are covered by charged pilotage fees, with the exception of the support granted to the pilotage activities in the Saimaa region.