Berlin Brandenburg Airport set to open in October 2020

Dec 2, 2019

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After sitting empty for nine years, Willy Brandt Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) will finally open on 31 October 2020, said Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg CEO Engelbert Lütke Daldrup at a press conference held at Tegel Airport on 29 November. Construction started on the facility, located near the existing Schonefeld Airport, in 2006 after a decade and a half of planning.

Looking inside Willy Brandt Berlin Brandenburg Airport. (Photo courtesy of Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH / Günter Wicker)
Looking inside Willy Brandt Berlin Brandenburg Airport. (Photo courtesy of Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH / Günter Wicker)

The airport was built in anticipation of two events: An expected growth in future passenger traffic and creating a new Air Berlin hub in Germany’s capital. It was needed to replace Berlin’s three aging airports: Schonefeld, Tegel and the now-closed Tempelhof. The original plan had BER opening in October 2011. But a mere four weeks before a new opening date of June 2012, it was delayed after safety inspectors took issue with the airport’s fire safety and smoke exhaust systems. The next opening date was October 2013.

After a management shuffle, a failed bid for additional airport construction and the bankruptcy of one of its existing construction partners in 2014 and 2015, an unspecified opening date was moved to 2017. During the same year, Air Berlin declared bankruptcy, then shut down on 31 October, 2017, after 39 years in service, leaving BER without a hub airline. Another opening delay was caused by more problems with the safety of the airport’s fire detection systems.

The 2017 opening date came and went after the airport didn’t get certification for its new underground station and the firing of its spokesperson after an interview where he said the project was stymied by fraud, corruption, and millions of euros wasted.

BER had been under construction for 11 years, blown through six opening dates, three general managers and two state leaders, with costs ballooning from around €1 billion to at least €5.4 billion, according to the “How To F#€k Up An Airport” podcast. BER’s Daldrup said that the move to the new airport will be done in phases, reports the The Associated Press. Flights to Tegel are on track to end on Nov. 8, 2020. Airlines will continue to fly in and out of Schoenefeld. “We still have 11 months of hard work in front of us,” he said. The airport’s systems will be tested for six months before BER is finally opened, he added.

Featured photo courtesy of the city of Berlin

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