Hellenic Coastal Shipping Seeks Financial Support from the European Commission
The Hellenic Ministry of Shipping and the Ministry of Finance are having discussions with the European Commission in order to include Greek ferry companies in a financial aid program that will ensure their viability against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The information says that the amount of financial support that each ship will receive has not been clarified yet. However, it is estimated that the very large ships will be subsidized with no less than EUR 40,000 per day, while all the other vessels will approximately receive EUR 30,000.
So far, the latest data coming from the Greek Ship-owners Association for Passenger Ships reveal, that the passenger ferry traffic -in all domestic lines- is expected to be reduced during April-May by 90%, while it is projected that the decline will continue throughout the summer season causing a 50% drop to passengers and 40% to cargo.
Furthermore, it has been estimated that the loss of revenue of the Greek ferry companies will exceed some EUR 290 million in 2020, which means that if the Hellenic Government does not act fast and provide a proper financial support, the sector would “collapse”.
As a result of these, on 27 March 2020 the Minister of Shipping announced the following package of measures in order to support the coastal shipping:
Hellenic Coastal ferry companies will be entitled to the latest relief measures announced by the Greek government. These measures include:
- Suspension of tax and social security contribution payments for Greek coastal ferry companies
- Benefit (EUR 800) for their employees that have been or will be suspended from their employment contracts until 30 April
- Seafarers that were fired from March 1 will also be eligible for the 800-euro benefit
- The unemployment benefit for unemployed seafarers will be extended until May 31
- The winter on board service composition (number of seafarers employed on board) of ferry vessels will be extended until April 30
- High-speed vessels will remain docked until further notice by the Ministry, depending on the course of the pandemic
- Ferries’ certificates validity is extended for another 3 months
- All port fees (PPA) paid by coastal shipping companies will be slashed by 20% until the end of next month. The slash will reach even 50% if the crisis remains.
Furthermore, the Ministry of Shipping is currently in close cooperation with the ministries of finance and Development, to assess the exact compensation of companies affected by the decline in the ferry market due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and launches a specific aid scheme. Moreover, a provision would be tabled in parliament to allow a particular ferry route or routes, belonging to the main and local ferry network, to operate under public service contracts.