Spirit ships take pandemic in their stride

Annual freight at record, while passenger traffic lags

Spirit ships take pandemic in their stride
Spirit of Tasmania I in Devonport


TT-Line’s two Spirit of Tasmania ships saw freight traffic step in as passengers were blocked due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The Tasmanian government-owned enterprise pivoted to freight passenger eased due to border restrictions, state infrastructure and transport minister Michael Ferguson has noted.

This involved amongst other things, offering a premium "last to leave, first to arrive" freight service, which was further expanded when passenger demand dropped.

The shipping container record now stands at 122,131 twenty-foot equivalent Units (TEUs) of freight carried in 2020-21.

This is well up on the 110,561 TEUs carried in 2019-20, the last full year of unconstrained passenger demand.

Passenger numbers for 2020-21 were only 232,849, well down on the 451,932 passengers carried in 2018-19, the previous fully unconstrained year, bearing in mind that 2019-20 was constrained for much of the time.

"For long periods of time over the past two years the Spirits have carried only returning Tasmanians and essential workers, including freight drivers," Ferguson said.

"Through this time the Spirits continued to sail and maintained an essential transport link with mainland Australia.

"These results highlight the crucial role the Spirits of Tasmania play as an essential service and connection to mainland Australia for passenger travel and time sensitive freight in and out of Tasmania."


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