"The reflagging is enormously important for Finnish maritime transport," says Kenneth Bondas, president of the Finnish Seafarers' Union.
The Finnish flag will be hoisted above the stern of VIKING XPRS in a solemn ceremony when the vessel is entered into the Finnish Register of Ships. The Finnish national anthem - "Our Land" - will be played during the reflagging ceremony at Skatudden in Helsinki. VIKING XPRS serves the Helsinki-Tallinn route.
The vessel, built in the Aker Yards shipyard in Helsinki in 2008, initially sailed under a Swedish flag. Since 2014, it has been registered in Estonia's Register of Ships. As a result of the reflagging, staff on the vessel will be transferred to the Finnish salary system and become direct employees of Viking Line. The crew previously worked through a Finnish staffing company.
"Our vessel employs 175 people. Around 10 per cent of them worked previously on ROSELLA, which was taken over by a new owner in Greece earlier this year. We also have a number of experienced staff who were shifted over from our other vessels as well as former VIKING XPRS crew members. The reflagging will make hiring easier for us and give our staff greater opportunities to move between the vessels,” says master Stefan Dahlström.
People at the Finnish Seafarers' Union are really pleased with the reflagging.
"It is enormously important for Finnish maritime transport to have VIKING XPRS and the workplaces on board the vessel under a Finnish flag. The reflagging strengthens the reliability and competence of our country's maritime transport. At the same time, it is proof that people have faith in Finnish seafarers," says Kenneth Bondas, president of the Finnish Seafarers' Union.
"The transfer of XPRS to Finland's Register of Ships increases the country's domestic transport capacity, which is important in view of our security of supply," notes Kenneth Bondas. "This is also a major event because it is extremely rare for vessels to be reflagged – over the decades, there have been far more deflaggings. The fact that many new vessels such as VIKING GLORY have been registered in Finland testifies to the competitiveness of the country's maritime transport.”
Viking Line is Finland's biggest employer in maritime transport. The company has 1,200 permanent seafarers and about 500 fixed-term employees in Finland and on vessels registered in Finland's Register of Ships. Four of the company's five vessels – VIKING XPRS, VIKING GLORY, VIKING GRACE and GABRIELLA – are entered in Finland's Register of Ships. CINDERELLA, which provides cruise service between Stockholm and Åland, sails under a Swedish flag.
"Domestic and sustainable are important values for us and something that we make concrete investments in. We are pleased that we can now bring VIKING XPRS home and re-enter the vessel in Finland's Register of Ships. The Tallinn-Helsinki route is important not just for tourism but also for commuter and goods traffic between Finland, Estonia and the other Baltic countries as well as for Finland's security of supply. Last year, we had 1.4 million passengers on the Tallinn route," notes Viking Line’s CEO, Jan Hanses.
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