An ambitious cruise line, a dream of many cruise liners in the past was realized this year for about 50 days but its operation was suspended. Of course, we are speaking about the Thessaloniki-Smyrna (Izmir) ferry connection that Levante Ferries launched on October 10 with the Smyrna Di Levante passenger ferry. Yesterday the company announced the suspension of the routes until further notice, but it does not seem to be laying down its arms as its executives characterize this first attempt as a “crash test”.
The “friendship line” as characterized by the founder of Levante Ferries George Theodosis, the sea connection line between Thessaloniki and Smyrna, Europe and Asia, started on October 10. Some faced the effort with skepticism both because of the expensive “port charges” of Smyrna and the climate that prevails in the recent period in Turkey-Greece relations with the responsibility of the political leadership of the neighbor.
In Smyrna, however, the atmosphere was friendly and there was plenty of good mood for the operation of the line. Despite the efforts, the operation of the line was eventually suspended. It is of course a fact that the itineraries started in a period almost dead for tourism (October) and at the same time in a generally negative situation due to increased fuel costs (this concerns the ship), and general economic hardship due to the energy crisis.
The “damaging” factors
According to the information, additional factors that made the route particularly damaging, in this period of time, were the downward trend in passenger traffic due to the winter season, the low price of truck fuel oil in Turkey due to government subsidies, which reduces the competitive advantage of sea transport and the minimum number of bilateral transit permits as we reach the end of the year.
The recent explosion in Istanbul also played a role, especially for passengers from Greece.
However, even under these conditions, the ship at some point managed to caary 90 passengers as well as the 36 trucks.
The majority of passengers were Turkish and it is worth noting that all VIP cabins were full on every trip.
The position of the company
The company in its announcement points out that everything was done “according to plans” and in this context, “the winter schedule of the routes of the Thessaloniki – Smyrna line ends on 30/11/2022″.
It also underscored that since the start of the routes on 10/10/2022 the company has already made 40 trips, laying the foundations for seamless passenger and commercial connectivity between the two countries. This two-month service of the line is a useful reserve for the easy and quick restart of the 2023 summer season services. The exact start date of the summer season services will be determined at a later announcement.
Executives of the company speak, as mentioned above, of a very useful “crash test”, the experience of which will be fully utilized in the re-evaluation of the effort from the coming Spring.
However, it should be noted that the president of the branch of the Chamber of Shipping in Izmir, Yusuf Oztkurk, who is also the agent at Levante Ferries in Izmir, in his statements to Turkey’s Anadolu Agency, expressed his disappointment at the suspension of the Izmir-Thessaloniki connection. saying that “the main reason for the suspension decision is lack of support. I don’t understand why there is no support. Companies involved in international land transport should have supported this line.”