Birka Cruises (subsidiary of Eckero Group) announced it goes out of business laying off 500+ employees.
Established in 1971 and operating as Sweden's only cruise shipping line, Birka in March had announced that operations would be suspending until May 2020 but was later forced to extend the cruise suspension due to international travel restrictions.
Citing the financial impact of the pandemic along with the uncertainty about how travel develops in the future, Birka decided to permanently close the business and is now effectively defunct.
The company’s only ship - Birka Stockholm - was introduced in 2004 and operated daily ferry cruises into Stockholm archipelago or multi-day voyages around Baltic Sea. Birka Cruises was best known for the short roundtrips to Mariehamn (Aland Islands, Finland).
Birka's parent company Eckero Line (1961-founded) also operates car and passenger ferries in the region along with cargo shipping services between Sweden, Finland and the Baltic countries and bus service. Eckero acquired Birka in 2007.
Birka's officials haven't revealed what will happen to the cruise ship. It is not known if Birka Stockholm would be offered for sale or could be deployed as a cruiseferry.
Their official statement said:
“The financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic’s track … has hit us hard. The uncertainty about how travel will develop has also contributed to our having to make this decision after evaluating all possible alternatives. All of us who have worked at Birka Cruises want to take the opportunity to thank you for all the happy laughs and encouraging comments over the years. It is said that the guest does the party, and you as our guest really did. Big thanks for everything!”