The F.Å.A. Line's Emigrant Traffic


The F.Å.A. (Finska Ångfartygs Aktiebolaget, i.e. Finland Steamship Company) Line was founded in 1883 primarily for regular traffic from Finland to England. In May 1884 the company launched its first freighter, S/S Sirius, specially designed for the purpose. With the completion of Finland's first ice-breaker in 1890 the time was ripe for starting round-the-year traffic from Hanko (Hangö) to England. In December of the same year the F.Å.A. line commissioned two ice-strengthened passenger ships. The company promised to continue traffic for ten years and in return the government granted it an interest-free loan that need not be repaid.

On September 12, 1891, the F.Å.A. Line took possession of its first passenger ship S/S Urania, purposely-built for carrying emigrants and butter from Finland to England. On 12 October 1891, the company received its second emigrant ship S/S Astrea. The two ships were put on the route Hanko - Copenhagen - Hull. Each of them took 22 passengers into the first class, 34 into the second and 186 emigrants into the third, along with some 1,000 tons of cargo.

In order to ensure traffic on the new emigrant route, the F.Å.A. made contracts with several large ocean lines and set up a country-wide network of agents in Finland. Other shipping companies, including the German Norddeutscher Lloyd, which had dominated the emigrant route Hanko - Stockholm, quickly lost the battle. Since then, the F.Å.A. had virtual monopoly of the Finnish emigrant traffic. The only real rival was the Turku-based company Ångfartygs Ab Nord headed by Victor Ek. The F.Å.A. lost the competition for ten-year-long state aid to traffic between Finland and England to the new line which in January 1903 put the passenger-carrying freighter S/S Nord I to the Hanko - England route. Its twin ship S/S Nord II came about a month later and in June of the same year, S/S Nord III, also of identical design. The boats plied between Hanko and Newcastle/Grimsby in England, calling at Copenhagen on the way. Cargo to England mainly consisted of butter. The fare war in the Atlantic traffic between the Cunard Line and other companies soon spread into traffic between Finland and England. The Ångfartygs Ab Nord lowered the Finland-to-America fare to 100 Finnish marks, to which the F.Å.A. replied by reducing it to FIM 79. Both companies suffered heavy losses with the result that the F.Å.A. bought all the share capital of the Ångfartygs Ab Nord on 26 October 1904. In the same year, the whole of the state aid to Nord went over to the F.Å.A. The ships were taken out of traffic and sold the following year to overseas shipping companies. Other competitors for the traffic were the Skandinavien-Amerika Linie in 1899 and Bore, which offered places to emigrants on the route Turku (Åbo) - Stockholm - Gothenburg - Hull - Liverpool in 1902. Most of the emigrants carried by the F.Å.A. travelled via Hull. Some went via Copenhagen or Bremen, especially in later years.