BALEARIA SHIPPING LINES RESILIENT TO COVID-19
Balearia shipping lines have released a statement saying the company’s strength and adaptability helped temper the impact of COVID-19 on its results.
The line adapting its activities, translating into more freight and the continuation of Spain’s national routes to assure a permanent link between islands, enclaves in Morocco and Mainland Spain.
Thanks to what the company describes as “efficient and dynamic management”, Balearia adapted to the continuous fluctuations in the market. The diversification of the shipping company’s business activities (passenger and cargo) helped smoothen the impact of Covid-19 last year.
“The mobility restrictions caused significant drops in all traffic types and resulted in a negative outcome, which means our solvency has been reduced and our debt has risen, but we have resisted thanks to the strength of our assets and finances, the consequence of many years of hard work”, said Adolfo Utor, Balearia’s chairman.
The effects of the pandemic on traffic translated into a 24% drop in the shipping company’s turnover with losses amounting to over €15m. However, Balearia’s financial management was underpinned by an EBITDA of more than $60m. In this challenging economic context, the company continued to focus on competitiveness and leadership, maintaining investments in its strategic areas (innovation and sustainability), and adding a new priority: guaranteeing the safety of its ships.
The mobility restrictions have caused significant declines in all types of traffic: -52% in the case of passengers and -6% in the transport of goods. Passenger and cargo areas reached a similar proportion of the turnover. However, while mobility limitations and border closures reduced passengers by half (2,150,000), freight transport remained more stable throughout the year. It only decreased only by 6% (5,743,000 lm).
National routes accounted for almost 94% of passengers, with variations in behaviour depending on the area: in Ceuta and Melilla traffic plummeted by -60%, in the Balearic Islands the fall was -30%. But in contrast, the Canary Islands routes recorded growth of 20%.
International routes were deeply affected by border closures and the cancellation of scheduled services along the Strait of Gibraltar. Passenger traffic dropped by 85%.
Sustainability is Balearic’s top agenda
Despite the situation, Balearia’s adaptability made it possible to respond to the demand for repatriating European citizens by opening a new international route between Morocco and France, in addition to almost 50 special operations coordinated with different governments. The shipping company proved its commitment of fulfilling its social commitment and was involved in maintaining services throughout the different regions.
“This year we have shown financial strength, and a tremendous ability to react, be flexible and adapt”, explained Utor, who also highlighted “the enormous effort made by all the teams”. Finally, he indicated that the shipping company is prepared “to face recovery with renewed energy, optimism, cohesion and motivation”.
The difficult situation caused by the Covid pandemic did not deter Balearia from continuing to promote sustainability. The company says it is leading in terms of sustainability in shipping, especially in the use of natural gas.
It set a milestone by launching the Eleanor Roosevelt, the world’s first fast ferry with gas-powered engines, which will shortly come into operation. In addition, in 2020, the company was already operating six ships powered by this cleaner energy, enabling it to avoid emitting 37,000 tonnes of CO2. A pioneer in gas-powered maritime transport, the company was responsible for 96% of the LNG supplied to ships in Spain, most of them using an innovative high-efficiency system.
In 2020, Balearia was awarded another project that will be yet another landmark in sustainability: the new passenger terminal at the port of Valencia, in which it will invest €37m. The aim is for the terminal to show the lowest possible environmental impact, with 100% of the electricity used in the facilities being self-generated from either renewable sources or a biogas plant that generates biomethane by recycling organic waste.