Norway invites competition for Hurtigruten

Norway, ferry, Hurtigruten, competition, invite, contract, government, ministry, EU, European Free Trade Association, EFTA, Surveillance Authority, ESA

Other companies can bid for new 10-year contract
Norway is appealing for companies to launch ferry lines along its coastline to compete with the near-monopoly and subsidies currently enjoyed by Hurtigruten.
The Ministry of Transportation and Communication is inviting competition after the European Free Trade Association’s (EFTA) Surveillance Authority (ESA) reportedly challenged the country’s subsidy arrangement.
Hurtigruten currently operates 11 vessels along the Norwegian coast, providing 24/7 passenger and cargo services to 34 ports between Bergen in the south and Kirkenes in the far north.
Operating the services since 1893, Hurtigruten receives a state subsidy. Critics argue that it benefits from a monopoly situation along the coast and that passengers would be better served with more competition.
Previously, the ESA approved a subsidy amount of around €500 million for the period from 2012 to 2019, especially as it includes communities that have no road or air access.
Hurtigruten is contracted until the end of 2019, with a one-year extension option. Both it and other companies can now submit bids for a new contract, to run from the start of 2021 to the end of 2031. The deadline for bids is January 3 next year.
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