Graphic shows details of Berlin Brandenburg Airport.
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AVIATION

Berlin’s new airport opens after nine-year delay

By Jordi Bou

October 31, 2020 - Despite nine years’ delay, budget overruns and a global pandemic, it is hoped Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) – conceived to celebrate reunified Germany’s capital – will become an international hub.

Already 20 years in the planning when construction began in 2006, the airport was set to open in 2011. This was postponed to June 2012, then March 2013, October 2013 and 2019.

The project was plagued by cost overruns during construction and by costly fixes for problems such as cracks in the tile floors and an inadequate fire safety system. Cleaning, heating and lighting the unfinished airport is reported to have cost taxpayers €20 million per month – more than the still-operational Tegel Airport nearby.

The delays, attributed to poor planning, bad management and corruption, have damaged Germany’s reputation for efficiency.

Airport boss Engelbert Luetke Daldrup says repeated postponements from the promised opening date in 2012, made Berlin - and Germany - “a laughing stock.”

The German capital’s new €6 billion gateway replaces Berlin’s two Cold War-era airports – Tegel (TXL), due to close on Nov 8, and Schoenefeld (SFX), which has been integrated into the new build.

Also known as Willy Brandt airport, after the former West German chancellor, BER aims to welcome 36m passengers – Tegel and Schoenefeld’s combined traffic in 2019 – but not until 2024, due to the ongoing pandemic.

Easyjet and Lufthansa will make simultaneous first landings at the new airport, when it finally becomes operational on October 31.

PUBLISHED: 02/10/2020; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Getty Images, Newscom
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