Tallink to buy ship for Riga–Stockholm route from rival Viking Line

Reisiparvlaev Isabella Helsingi sadamas

PHOTO: Viking Line

Hansalink Limited, a subsidiary of AS Tallink Grupp, and Viking Line ABP came to an agreement on Thursday about the purchase by Hansalink of M/S Isabella for a total investment of approximately 30 million euros, Tallink said.

The transaction and the delivery of the vessel are scheduled to be completed during April 2013.

The newer vessel with more passenger and car capacity will replace M/S Silja Festival on the Riga-Stockholm route, meeting the increased demand on that route.

Previously Viking Line had said it intends to bring the Isabella temporarily on the Tallinn–Helsinki route for the summer because the sale of the vessel seemed to take more time than expected.

Viking Line said in a press release that the sale of M/S Isabella was part of its long-term strategy. Already in 2009, during the early planning of M/S Viking Grace, selling of the Isabella was included in the financial plan and the ship has been up for sale since the summer of 2012. International buyer candidates also showed interest in the vessel, Viking Line said.

"Sale of the Isabella has been part of our long-term strategy and it has now become reality. For our company, the Helsinki-Tallinn route is extremely significant, and the aim is to find yet more sustainable options for the development of Baltic Sea travel in future," Viking Line's Managing Director Mikael Backman said.

Backman said it was, without question, unfortunate that the sale took place so very close to the beginning of the season. He added that it was, naturally, very regrettable also from the viewpoint of the Viking Like staff who had given their valuable input towards the planning of the summer season.

The Isabella operated the Turku-Stockholm route until the Viking Grace replaced it in January 2013. Since then, the Isabella replaced M/S Amorella for a few weeks when Amorella was in dock, while lately the Isabella is been in Turku waiting to be docked. Once it began to seem improbable that the sale of the vessel would take place before the summer, Viking Line came up with a backup plan to temporarily bring the Isabella onto the Helsinki-Tallinn route for the summer season of 2013, Viking Line said.

The Isabella will be bought by the Tallink Grupp subsidiary Hansalink Limited, which previously was the owner of the Tallink AutoExpress 2. After the sale of AutoExpress 2 the Cypriot registered company has had no economic activity. The AutoExpress 2 now plies the route to the Caribbean island of Margarita, Venezuela.