Berlin’s New International Airport Delayed Again Until October 2013
By James Ruggia
September 08, 2012 10:11 AM
Berlin’s eagerly awaited new Brandenburg Willy Brandt International Airport (BER) has been delayed again, this time until October 2013, seven months after the previously announced opening date. This is the second time the airport has been delayed and it reportedly is running up costs and also playing havoc for airlines trying to use the new facility as a hub.
The airport originally was due to open June 3, 2012, than March 17, 2013 and now it is being promised for Oct. 27, 2013. On Sept. 7 it was also revealed that the cost of the project had risen to 4.2 billion euros ($5.38 billion), 1.2 billion euros more than the last estimate.
Berlin’s existing airports, Tegel and Schoenefeld, are remnants of the divided Cold War city when one facility served East Berlin and the other West Berlin. Tegel became the center of the world’s attention in 1948 when President Harry Truman made it the recipient of the food supplies from the Berlin Airlift. The new Brandenburg Willy Brandt airport, which is expected to serve 27 million passengers a year, is designed to relieve pressure on the two existing
The new delay will be felt most by airberlin, which will make the new airport its hub, replacing its existing Dusseldorf hub, though it offers many flights to Berlin’s Tegel. Lufthansa’s hub is in Frankfurt, but Germanwings, Lufthansa’s domestic subsidiary, in October now plans to move its operations to Tegel from Berlin Schoenefeld, the old East German airport.
“We are still looking forward to our new home base at BER and we are fully committed to the airport,” said Hartmut Mehdorn, CEO of airberlin. “As the market leader here in the capital, we want to consolidate our position, to grow steadily and further strengthen our hub with international long-haul routes.”
Mehdorn said that it was regrettable that, following the decision to delay the airport, airberlin will have to spend another summer season at Tegel. “We were hoping that we would be spared this, particularly for the sake of our passengers,” he said. “Tegel is already operating at maximum capacity and can hardly support further growth. Unfortunately, at Tegel, we are not always able to offer our passengers the quality of service they are accustomed to receiving from us. We will, however, continue to do everything possible to minimize the impact on our passengers. Until now, through the enormous effort we have made, we have managed this reasonably well.”