Viking Line

Viking Line

company_name = Viking Line
company_type = Public (OMX|HEX24389|VIK1V)
company_slogan =
foundation = 1963
location = Mariehamn, flag|Åland, flag|Finland
key_people = Nils-Erik Eklund (CEO)
num_employees = 2,907 (2006/2007) [ Results for the fiscal year November 1, 2006 – October 31, 2007, retrieved 12. 19. 2007] ]
industry = Shipping
area_served = Northern Europe
products = Ferries, port services, passenger transportation, freight transportation, holidays, business travel
revenue = increase 436.02 million Euro (2006/2007)
operating_income = increase 33.78 million Euro (2006/2007)
homepage = []

Viking Line is a Finnish shipping company that operates a fleet of ferries and cruiseferries between Finland, the Åland Islands, Sweden and Estonia. Viking Line shares are quoted on the Helsinki Stock Exchange. Viking Line is operated from the Åland Islands.

Company history

Early Years: 1959-1966

Viking Line's history can be traced back to 1959, when a group of sea- and businessmen from the Åland Islands province in Finland formed Rederi Ab Vikinglinjen, purchased a steam-powered car-ferry SS "Dinard" from the UK, renamed her SS|Viking|1924|6 and began service on the route Korpo (Finland) — Mariehamn (Åland) — Gräddö (Sweden). [ Viking Line: 40 Years of Ferry Service] , retrieved 12. 10. 2007] sv icon Eliasson, Thor-Alf: "Viking Line i backspegeln", pages 18-20. Mariehamns Tryckeri/Viking Line 2005. No ISNB code] In the same year the Gotland-based Rederi AB Slite began a service between Simpnäs (Sweden) and icon Eliasson, Thor-Alf: "Viking Line i backspegeln", pages 22-23. Mariehamns Tryckeri/Viking Line 2005. No ISNB code]

In 1962, a disagreement caused a group of people to leave Rederi Ab Vikinglinjen and form a new company, Rederi Ab Ålandsfärjan, who began a service linking Gräddö and Mariehamn the following year.

Soon the three companies, all competing for passengers between Åland Islands and Sweden, realised that they in the long run all stood to lose from mutual competition. In 1965 Vikinglinjen and Slite began collaborating, and in the end of July 1966 Viking Line was established as a marketing company for all three companies. At this time Rederi Ab Vikinglinjen changed their name to Rederi Ab Solstad, in order to avoid confusion with the marketing company. The red hull livery was adopted from Slite's Ålandspilen service [sv icon [ Fakta om Fartyg: M/S "Apollo" (1964)] , retrieved 24. 10. 2007] (to which it had been taken from the colour of the chairman's wife's lipstick! [fi icon [ FCBS Forum: laivojen nimien alkuperä ja merkitys] , retrieved 12. 10. 2007] ). In 1967 Rederi Ab Ålandsfärjan changed its name to SF Linesv icon Eliasson, Thor-Alf: "Viking Line i backspegeln", pages 26-27. Mariehamns Tryckeri/Viking Line 2005. No ISNB code] and in 1977 Rederi Ab Solstad was merged into its mother company Rederi Ab Sally. [ sv icon [ Fakta om Fartyg: M/S "Marsk Stig" (1940)] , retrieved 12. 10. 2007]


Because Viking Line was only a marketing company, each owner company retained their individual fleets and could choose on which routes to set their ships (naturally there was also co-ordination on schedules and such). Each company's ships were easy to distinguish by name: all Sally ships had a "Viking" prefix on their names, Slite took their names from Roman and Greek mythologies, while SF Line's names ended with -ella in honor of managing director Gunnar Eklund's wife Ellen Eklund.

During the 1970s Viking expanded greatly and overtook Silja Line as the largest shipping consortium on the Northern Baltic Sea.Fact|date=October 2007 Between 1970 and 1973 Slite and Sally took delivery of five nearly identical ships built at Meyer Werft Germany, namely MS "Apollo" and MS "Diana" for Slite, and MS "Viking 1", MS "Viking 3" and MS "Viking 4" for Sally. MS "Viking 5", delivered in 1974, was an enlargened version of the same design. [sv icon Eliasson, Thor-Alf: "Viking Line i backspegeln", pages 40-43. Mariehamns Tryckeri/Viking Line 2005. No ISNB code] These so-called Papenburg sisters can be considered to be one of the most successful ships designs of all timesFact|date=October 2007 (the shipyard built three additional sisters of the original design for Transbordadores for ship services in Mexico: "Coromuel", [sv icon [ Fakta om Fartyg: M/S "Coromuel" (1973)] , retrieved 12. 10. 2007] "Puerto Vallarta" [sv icon [ Fakta om Fartyg: M/S "Puerto Vallarta" (1974)] , retrieved 12. 10. 2007] and "Azteca" [sv icon [ Fakta om Fartyg: M/S "Azteca" (1975)] , retrieved 12. 10. 2007] ). In 1973 Viking Line started service on the Turku—Mariehamn—Stockholm route, directly competing with Silja Line for the first time. The next year Sally began Viking Line traffic between Helsinki and Stockholm. [sv icon Eliasson, Thor-Alf: "Viking Line i backspegeln", pages 44-46. Mariehamns Tryckeri/Viking Line 2005. No ISNB code] For the next decade this route stayed in their hands, whereas on other routes the three companies operated together.

By the latter half of the 70's Sally was clearly the dominant partner in the consortium. In 1980 they took delivery of three new ferries (MS "Viking Saga", MS "Viking Sally" and MS "Viking Song"), largest to have sailed under Viking's colours. This further established their dominance over the other partners, although SF Line did take delivery of the new MS "Turella" and MS "Rosella" in 1979-1980 and Slite MS "Diana II" in 1979. [sv icon Eliasson, Thor-Alf: "Viking Line i backspegeln", pages 53-54. Mariehamns Tryckeri/Viking Line 2005. No ISNB code] In the early 1980s Sally started expanding their operations to other waters, which became the company's failing as those operations were largely unprofitable and ultimately made Sally unable to invest on new tonnage for Viking Line service. [fi icon [ FCBS Forum: Matkustajalaivojen vaihtuminen matkustaja-autolautoiksi] , retrieved 12. 10. 2007]


In 1985 a new leaf was turned in Viking Line's history when SF Line's brand-new MS "Mariella", at the time the largest ferry in the world, replaced MS "Viking Song" on Helsinki—Stockholm service, breaking Sally's monopoly on the route. The next year Slite took delivery of Mariella's sister MS "Olympia" and thus forced Sally out of Helsinki—Stockholm traffic completely. While SF Line and Slite were planning additional newbuilds, Sally were in an extremely poor position financially and in 1987 Effoa and Johnson Line, the owners of Silja Line, purchased Sally. As a result SF Line and Slite forced Sally to leave the Viking Line consortium. [sv icon Eliasson, Thor-Alf: "Viking Line i backspegeln", pages 69-70. Mariehamns Tryckeri/Viking Line 2005. No ISNB code]

Between 1988 and 1990 SF Line took delivery of three new ships (MS "Amorella", MS "Isabella" and MS "Cinderella") while Slite took delivery of two (MS "Athena" and MS "Kalypso"). [sv icon Eliasson, Thor-Alf: "Viking Line i backspegeln", page 73. Mariehamns Tryckeri/Viking Line 2005. No ISNB code] Unfortunately Wärtsilä Marine, the shipyard building one of SF Line's newbuilds and both of Slite's, went bankrupt in 1989. SF Line avoided financial repercussions, their Cinderella had been continuously paid for as her construction progressed. Hence it was SF Line who owned the almost completed ship when the shipyard went bankrupt. [fi icon [ FCBS Forum: Sliten konkurssin syyt ja seuraukset + muuta 1980-90-l. taitteen Vikingistä] , retrieved 12. 10. 2007] Slite however had signed a more traditional type of contract, the Kalypso was to be paid for on delivery. Since the shipyard owned the unfinished ship, this led to an increased cost for the Kalypso [fi icon [ FCBS Forum: Gunnar Eklundin lähtö Vikinglinjenistä] , retrieved 12. 10. 2007] - about 200 million SEK more than had been originally envisaged.Fact|date=October 2007 In the end, despite the financial problems, by 1990 Viking Line had the largest and newest cruiseferry fleet in the world.In 1989Fact|date=October 2008 Slite started planning MS "Europa", which was to be the jewel in the company's crown, the largest and most luxurious cruiseferry in the world. Unfortunately for them Sweden entered a financial crises during the construction of the ship, which led to devaluation of the Swedish krona. This in turn meant that the cost for the Europa increased by 400 million SEK. When time came to take delivery of the new ship, Slite did not have the funds to pay for it and their main funders (Swedish Nordbanken, who were also the main funders of Silja Line) refused to loan them the money needed. Eventually the ship ended up in Silja Line's fleet and Slite was forced to declare bankruptcy in 1993. [sv icon [ Fakta om Fartyg: M/S "Europa" (1993)] , retrieved 12. 10. 2007]


Following the bankruptcy of Rederi AB Slite SF Line was left as the sole operator under the Viking Line brand. The remaining two Slite ships, "Athena" and "Kalypso" were auctioned in August 1993. [sv icon [ Fakta om Fartyg: M/S "Athena" (1989)] , retrieved 12. 10. 2007] sv icon [ Fakta om Fartyg: M/S "Kalypso" (1990)] , retrieved 12. 10. 2007] SF Line made a bid for the "Kalypso", but both ships ended up sold to the newly-established Malaysian cruise ship operator Star Cruises. In 1995 SF Line changed their name into Viking Line.

Between 1994 and 1996 the company operated a fast ferry service from Helsinki to Tallinn during the summers on chartered catamaran ships. [ [ Viking Line: Chartered Vessels] , retrieved 12. 10. 2007] In 1997 they purchased MS "Silja Scandinavia" from Sea-Link Shipping AB and renamed her MS|Gabriella for Helsinki—Stockholm service. [sv icon [ Fakta om Fartyg: M/S "Frans Suell" (1992)] , retrieved 12. 10. 2007] It has been reported that around the same time plans were made to construct a pair of new ships for the Helsinki—Stockholm service so that Viking could better compete with Silja on that route, but the plans were shelved.Fact|date=October 2007In 2006 Sea Containers Ltd—that had become the main owner of Silja Line in 1999—placed Silja Line and their cargo-carrying subsidiary SeaWind Line for sale, except for GTS|Finnjet and MS|Silja Opera that were transferred under Sea Container's direct ownership and eventually sold. [cite book |title=Siljan viisi vuosikymmentä |last=Malmberg |first=Thure |coauthors=Stampehl, Marko |year=2007 |publisher=Frenckellin Kirjapaino Oy |location=Espoo |isbn=978-951-98405-7-4 |language=Finnish/English |pages=pp. 168-169, 276, 285 ] Viking Line placed a bid for their main competitor, [cite web |url= |title=Pörssitiedote |accessdate=2008-10-05 |last= |first= |coauthors= |date=2006-01-25 |work=Viking Line press release |publisher=Viking Line |language=Finnish] but were outbid by the Estonian Tallink. [cite web |url= |title=Silja Linen myynti |accessdate=2008-10-05 |last= |first= |coauthors= |date=2006-06-12 |work=Viking Line press release |publisher=Viking Line |language=Finnish]

The first new ship built for Viking Line since Slite's MS "Kalypso" in 1990, MS|Viking XPRS, had been ordered from Aker Finnyards in 2005,cite web |url= |title=M/S "Viking XPRS" (2008) |accessdate=2008-10-05 |last=Asklander |first=Micke |coauthors= |date= |work=Fakta om Fartyg |publisher= |language=Swedish] in response to growing competition from Tallink on the Helsinki—Tallinn route.Fact|date=October 2008 The "Viking XPRS" eventually entered service for Viking in April 2008. A second new ship was ordered in January 2007, when Viking Line announced that they had placed an order for a GT|15,000|first=short ferry at the Spanish shipyard Astilleros de Sevilla. The project name for the ship, that will replace the MS|Rosella on the Mariehamn—Kapellskär route, [cite web |url= |title=M/S "Rosella" snart tillbaka i Roslagens skärgård: Viking Line ersätter M/S "Ålandsfärjan" med större fartyg |accessdate=2008-04-08 |date=2008-04-08 |work=Viking Line press release |publisher=Viking Line |format=PDF |language=in Swedish] is "Viking ADCC". Her delivery was originally expected for March 2009, [ [ Viking Line press release: Viking Line orders new vessel] , retrieved 12. 10. 2007] but delivery of the ship has been delayed until autumn 2009. [sv [ Viking ADCC blir försenad, Nya Ålands tidning] , retrieved 2008-09-09] .


In addition to building the XPRS and ADCC, Viking Line's CEO Nils-Erik Eklund stated in an interview of the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat that the company were looking to replace the ships operating between Turku and Stockholm. The volume of freight transported on the route has been steadily growing during the past years and if the growth continues the current ships will be too small to meet demand in the future. [fi icon [,3:1004:0:0,4:4:0:1:2007-01-31,104:4:435503,1:0:0:0:0:0: Turun Sanomat: Viking Line tilaa laivan Espanjasta Suomen telakoiden ruuhkan vuoksi] , retrieved 12. 10. 2007]

In a seminar held by Ålandsbanken in August 2008, Viking Line CEO Nils-Erik Eklund unveiled the company's plans to construct ships utilizing sails and solar panels as additional power sources to cut down consumption of diesel fuel. New technology is projected to cut down the fuel consumption by 20–30%, while the first new ship could be under construction by 2018.cite web |url=,3:1004:0:0,4:4:0:1:2008-08-30,104:4:561574,1:0:0:0:0:0 |title=Viking Line hahmottelee purjeita ja aurinkovoimaa käyttävää laivaa |accessdate=2008-08-30 |last=Vehmanen |first=Jukka |date=2008-08-30 |publisher=Turun Sanomat |language=Finnish ] cite web |url= |title=Vind och sol vision i Vikings framtidsbygge |accessdate=2008-09-02 |last=Orre |first=Annika |date=2008-09-02 | |publisher=Nya Åland |language=Swedish ] Conceptual drawings of the new ship type feature a sail/solar panel construction similar to that projected on Wallenius Wilhelmsen's "Orcelle"-concept for an environmentally friendly ro-ro cargo ship. [cite web |url= |title=Solar Powered Cargo Ship - Orcelle |accessdate=2008-09-02 |last= |first= |date=2006-10-29 |work= |publisher=Solar Navigator |language= ]

At the same seminar Eklund stated it was possible that the company could change the traditional red/white livery of their ships.


Current fleet

Additionally a large number of ferries were chartered during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s for seasonal traffic.


See also

* Viking
*Finnish Maritime Cluster
*List of Finnish companies

External links

* [ Viking Line] - In Finland
* [ Viking Line] - In Sweden

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