Aurora Botnia floated out: ”Passenger traffic will normalise next summer”

Wasaline’s new car and passenger ferry Aurora Botnia was floated out at Rauma Marine Constructions’ shipyard in Rauma on Friday. The vessel will operate between Vaasa and Umeå.


Shipyards all over the world faced suspensions and slowdowns due to coronavirus crisis. However, at RMC shipyard production has operated uninterrupted.

– We can be proud of the fact that despite the unusual circumstances we are now celebrating the float-out of Aurora Botnia. We’ve carefully followed all precautionary measures against the coronavirus, and as we haven’t experienced any component shortages we’ve been able to continue our production as planned, Jyrki Heinimaa, President and CEO of RMC says.

Float out was also a milestone in Aurora Botnia’s history. Established by the city of Vaasa and the municipality of Umeå, the Kvarken team delivered a proposal for safeguarding year-round passenger and cargo traffic on 11 September 2012. Now eight years later Wasaline’s new RoPax ferry was floated out.

– The distance between Vasa and Umeå is only 70 kilometres. We are extremely close to each other and this vessel will strengthen our cooperation still, says Joakim Strand, Chairman of the City Council in Vaasa.


Lower CO2 emissions

Aurora Botnia will be the first car and passenger ferry in the world with a Clean Design class notation. The main engines will run on both liquified natural gas (LNG) and biogas (LBG), and the carbon dioxide emissions from the ferry will be significantly lower compared to the ferry that now operates across the Kvarken strait.
– The new ship is the most environmentally friendly RoPax ferry in the world, and it has many innovative features, says Peter Ståhlberg, Managing Director of Wasaline.
The launch signals a new stage in building the vessel: the hull is now ready, and equipment assembly and interior work will begin. The focus will shift from steelwork to piping, insulation, ventilation and electrical installation. The vessel’s interior work will be done during next winter. The outfitting phase will be concluded with sea trials and commissioning for operation in spring 2021.


The future looks bright

Operation of cruise ferries have suffered hard due to travel restrictions. According to Ståhlberg Wasaline lost 72 % of their passengers in spring. He won’t criticize the restrictions but says that it will take time before passenger traffic will recover. 

– Passenger traffic will normalise next summer. But it’s good to be careful so we won’t get any setbacks.

Finnish government decided on Thursday that travel restrictions will now be scaled down. This means that it’s again possible to travel from Sweden to Finland without observing a two-week quarantine.

– This is extremely important for the trade. European ship building industry is based on cruise ships, says Heinimaa.

Despite the effects of coronavirus Heinimaa states that the future looks bright for Rauma Marine Constructions. RMC’s order book is over billion euros and shipyards’ capacity will be high until 2026.

Text: Tomi Kangasniemi

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