Lithuanian ferry accuses port of discrimination

  • 2004-08-26
  • From wire reports
VILNIUS - Lisco Baltic Service, a firm controlled by the Danish shipping group DFDS, filed a complaint this week to the European Commission's competition authority about Riga Free Port's discriminatory practices, a local paper reported.

The business daily Verslo Zinios reported on Aug. 24 that the Lithuania-based ferry operator has suffered losses of 1.4 million litas (400,000 euros) due to discrimination in favor of Rigas Juras Linijas, which is 31.6 percent owned by the port.
The problem arose when Riga Free Port stopped offering a 95 percent discount on port fees for LBS' ferries Vilnius and Kaunas - which sail between Riga and Lubeck, Germany - while the RJL ferry Baltic Kristina, which operates on the Riga-Stockholm route, continues to enjoy such discounts.
Peder Gellert Pedersen, DFDS Tor Line vice president, said that LBS and DFDS feel they were being discriminated against, since they know RJL receives better conditions than its Lithuanian competitor.
At the company's request, the Danish Association of Ship Owners has called on the EC to take action and eliminate what is described as "a clear violation of EU law."
If the commission's decision is unfavorable to LBS, the company will be able to appeal to the European Union's Court of First Instance.
In an attempt to help their current situation, the Lithuanian ferry operator is launching a new service between the Latvian port of Ventspils and Luebek on Aug. 27. Its Ro-pax vessel Palanga will operate twice a week on the new route.
"This pressure has forced us to take such steps - if not Riga, then Ventspils - to enhance services to Germany. Besides, costs in the port of Ventspils are similar to those in Klaipeda," Pedersen was quoted as saying.