At end of last week, German news agencies announced rebirth of ferryboat traffic between the port town of Cuxhaven on the eastern bank of Elbe and Brunsbüttel on the west, after a 14 years long interlude. Pursuant to announcements, the traffic commences this fall with two ferries loadable from both ends, to which a third one is added in 2016.
Cuxhaven/Brunsbüttel agency release says the service will be provided by Elb-Link Reederei GmbH which since 1995 is providing ferryboat service between Estonian mainland and island, a company with «undeniable international charisma».
From the reference and several similarities in the names, some German news agencies drew the conclusion that the company is linked to Tallink.
Not so: on its emptyish website, Elb-Link refutes links to Tallink and hints at the actual owner citing Urmas Treiel, chairman of the Vjatšeslav Leedo owned Väinamere Liinid, as representative.
Indeed, German and Estonian commercial registers reveal that Elb-Link Reederei, registered on March 16th, is hundred percent held by S.O. Invest OÜ, registered on February 2nd in Estonia, owned equally by Vjatšeslav Leedo and Katren Helinurm, unmarried partner of ferryboats’ owner Olav Miil.
Thus Tõnis Rihvk, head of Väinamere Liinid’s parent company Saaremaa Laevakompanii (SLK) was right on stating in a press release at end of last week: «We have no information about SLK vessels to sail on River Rhine.» Verily, it’s not going to be Rhine, rather Elbe.
Väinamere Liinid provided no comments for Postimees.
Today, representatives of SLK / Väinamere Liinid meet with economy minister Kristen Michal; according to preliminary information, they will be explaining the company’s future plans to the minister.
At the moment, ferryboat Saaremaa is at regular maintenance in Klaipeda, before that it was Muhumaa’s turn to be maintenance in Lithuania. Next to Muhumaa, the Saaremaa-mainland line is currently serviced by Regula. Also, ferryboat Ionas has been chartered from the Greek company 2wayferries, which is expected at Väinameri in a couple of weeks.
As shipowners are providing no information, it is not known when exactly Saaremaa and Muhumaa are moving to Elbe, the Virtsu-Kuivastu line then serviced by Ionas and Regula.
Väinamere Liinid’s contract with the state expires on October 1st 2016. Up until then, the Rohuküla-Heltermaa line must contractually be serviced by one new ferryboat i.e. the ferry Hiiumaa. Regarding changing the other ferryboats, shipowner has free hands according to contract entered ten years ago with then economy minister Edgar Savisaar.