Article

Finnpilot in 2020: the continuity of pilotage activities was safeguarded through successful protective measures


published on 31 March 2021 213

Text and photo by Finnpilot

The successful protective measures implemented by Finnpilot Pilotage contributed to ensuring the continuity of Finland’s foreign trade, also amid the coronavirus pandemic. The number of pilotage assignments decreased significantly along with the decline in vessel traffic. Despite the pandemic, projects related to the development of safety, digitalisation and responsibility proceeded as planned. 

In March 2020, the Government named pilotage a critical field in terms of the security of supply for Finnish society. In terms of the continuity of pilotage services, our key priority was to ensure the safety of our pilotage personnel, who work within an international environment. With the help of guidelines drawn up through co-operation with the authorities and successful protective measures, Finnpilot safely piloted vessels, including several ships with identified COVID-19 cases. To this point, not a single Finnpilot employee contracted the coronavirus in the course of their work tasks.

Altogether 99.9% (2019: 99.9%) of all pilotage assignments were fulfilled within the limits of the waiting times specified by service level objectives. According to the customer and stakeholder survey conducted at the turn of the year 2020–2021, Finnpilot’s customer satisfaction has remained at a high level.

Pilotage assignments in coastal waters decreased significantly, traffic in the Saimaa region increased

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on maritime traffic was also reflected in the number of pilotage assignments, which decreased in Finland’s coastal waters by 18.2% in comparison to the previous year. This decrease affected all pilotage areas along the coastline. The cancellation of summer cruise traffic had a particularly notable impact on the company’s result. Pilotage assignments in the Saimaa region recovered to a normal level in 2020 following the quieter than usual situation during the previous year. The increase was as much as 24.9%.

Finnpilot’s turnover decreased from the previous year by 12.4% for a total of EUR 35.8 million (EUR 40.9 million in 2019). The operating result was EUR -0.6 million (2019: EUR 2.6 million). To accommodate the financial impact, investments were postponed until a later date and costs were assessed critically. The personnel utilised their holiday time flexibly and holiday pay was changed into time off. The company’s savings measures and the reduction in variable costs managed to cover a part of the loss in income.

Development of the reporting culture, one step closer to remote pilotage trials

Our strategic projects proceeded as planned despite the coronavirus pandemic. As part of our goal to strengthen our safety culture, we introduced the use of a new, easy-to-use incident management system. The mobile user interface, clear classification system and specification of the handling process have advanced our objectives for transparency and shared learning. The number of reported incidents has increased considerably. The safety of the fleet was further improved with the introduction of two new pilot boats whose safety properties are far more advanced than those of their predecessors.

As part of the development of ePilotage, we continued our journey towards the first remote pilotage trials. Finnpilot served as a pilotage expert for the Sea for Value (S4V) programme initiated in February 2020. The Fairway section of the programme endeavours to develop future fairway navigation and remote pilotage. Our objective is to define, together with the network of navigational operators, a shared understanding of the requirements for safe remote pilotage by spring 2022.

Systematic work to promote responsibility and sustainable development

Corporate responsibility is a fundamental aspect of Finnpilot’s primary task: our mission is to guide ships safely and smoothly through the fragile maritime environment. During 2020, we updated our key themes of social responsibility, which served as the basis for Finnpilot’s first, separately published Corporate Responsibility Report.

During 2020, our environmental and energy management system received certification according to ISO 14001 and ETJ+ standards. By virtue of the environmental certification, we have increased our knowledge regarding sustainable operational methods as they relate to the environment, and we can operate in an even more responsible manner in and around Finland’s vulnerable waterways. Our personnel’s participation in measures intended to develop safety and responsibility has been a clear demonstration of their commitment to their work.

During 2021, our goal is to create a broader development programme that is focused around the key themes of social responsibility as a means of further guiding and enhancing our responsibility work.

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