Exclusive interview with Piotr Redmerski, an optimistic Polferries CEO  

Ferry Shipping News (FSN) visited the Polferries Headquarters in Kolobrzeg for a meeting with CEO Piotr Redmerski. He expressed optimism for the future development of Polferries. One newbuilding is ordered and construction will start in Szczecin, December 2017. Building time will be 30 months. This ferry could be a prototype for more to come, serving the Polferries network. 

 

During the last 5-10 years the passenger and especially freight traffic have seen a very big increase. This is in line with the strong development of the Polish economy.  

The owners of Polferries, the Polish government, wanted to sell out and privatise the company some years ago. However, today the same owners will develop Polferries. FSN believes that later the other Polish State-owned Unity Line will also see investment in new tonnage. 

 Parallel with this, Poland will invest in a development of their ship building industry.

Q&A

In your business model, how important is Freight vs Passenger business today and in the future? 

The most important is to connect these two businesses. Both cargo and passenger businesses are seasonably, fortunately in a different part of the year. For example in summer we notice an increase in the number of passengers and as from September it is cargo.  

The fact is that in general freight business is increasing much faster than passenger. The volume of trade between countries of Central and Southern Europe and Scandinavia is subject to an upward trend and a further increase is expected. Increase in the mutual trade turnover results in increased demand for carriages between the Continent and Scandinavia. With 3% share in the total export and import, Poland is one of the biggest trade partners of Sweden of all countries from this group. 

Import value between Poland and Sweden increased four times since the year 2000. Location of the Ports of Świnoujście, Gdańsk and Gdynia in the Baltic – Adriatic corridor, as well as including them as infrastructure knots in TEN-T, is an added value which will result in increased carriages to Scandinavia, also in transit. The construction of expressways and motorways, as well as modernisation of railways to ferry terminals, will result in improved access to terminals.  

 

How will that be reflected in your investment and fleet strategy? 

Current carriage capacity, mostly on Świnoujście line is insufficient. That’s why we bought a second hand ferry to increase our capacity right now. Market is increasing and we cannot wait. CRACOVIA (that’s the name of our new ferry) is bigger, both for cargo and passengers. The ferry is able to take 650 passengers, 64 cars and about 98 long lorries and 26 short ones. CRACOVIA replaced ferry BALTIVIA on  September 16. BALTIVIA is now employed as the third unit on the Świnoujście – Ystad line, according to the new timetable.  

In 2017 we also ordered a new ferry in the Polish shipyard Gryfia in Szczecin. It will be a ro-pax ferry with 400 passengers and 3,000 lane meters. Main fuel will be LNG. Delivery is planned for 2020.  

Simultaneously we have to secure our second line – Gdańsk – Nynäshamn. Better road infrastructure and also an increase in intermodal transport, mostly in this direction, shows, that the Gdańsk – Nynäshamn line has a great potential. That’s why we are planning to add a second ferry, which will be operating together with WAWEL.  

 

Your new building has a big freight capacity: 3,000 lane meter and 400 passengers. Is this the new type of tonnage for you? 

Yes and no. We didn’t have a ferry with 3,000 lane meter yet, but MAZOVIA which we are operating now has 2,620 lane meters. As mentioned, cargo business is increasing much faster that passengers, so in our opinion a ferry with 400 passengers and 3,000 lane meters will be the best supplement to MAZOVIA and CRACOVIA. 

 

How important are the various geographical markets for passenger volumes and revenue, and passenger spending on board? Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway. 

Our passenger customers are mostly from Poland, but we should separate passengers not by country, but by reason of traveling. People, which travel for work, business or just for fun are spending time on board in different ways. For some of them comfortable beds are important, for others entertainment is more important. Of course our job is to meet the expectations of everyone.  

 

The freight traffic is increasing constantly. What are the most important markets where goods come from/to? Poland, Sweden, Norway, Others? 

From all Scandinavian country it’s Sweden. Compared with Central and South European countries, Poland is one of the biggest trade partners to Sweden.  Future increase is expected. According to an analysis made by the Gdynia Maritime Academy, import from Sweden to Poland will increase for about 27% by 2020, and export from Sweden to Poland for about 40%. Most popular trade goods are: furniture, woods, groceries, building materials and automotive parts.  

 

Can you see Polferries operating outside the Baltic in the future? 

Firstly we have to focus on our main business, which is Baltic, but “we never say never.”