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New Berlin airport 'just for easyjetters'

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Photo: DPA
14:42 CEST+02:00
The long-running farce that is Berlin's new airport (BER) took another whirl this week, when the airport chief faced down claims he wanted to keep Tegel airport open as a "premium location" and that the new airport would serve budget airlines.

Hartmut Mehdorn, chairman of the operating company that runs all of the German capital's airports, released a statement on Friday denying a report in Die Zeit newspaper that it said was based on an "internal strategy paper".

"This statement is wrong," Mehdorn said. "We are not planning to keep Tegel running as a so-called premium location. I am not aware of the paper that Die Zeit mentions ... It remains the case that I will present the supervisory board with a plan for the opening of the BER in September."

According to Thursday's newspaper report, however, Berlin's much-loved Tegel airport would see 42 flights an hour from 2017 onwards - the same number projected for the new BER airport currently under construction at a location near the old Schönefeld airport - which is scheduled for closure.

The documents Die Zeit cited, said that the new BER airport would mainly be booked for budget airlines, while terminals A and B at Tegel would be developed into an airport for business passengers and VIPs by 2019.

Mehdorn has previously suggested that Tegel airport would remain in operation, despite the fact that its closure was a pre-condition of the construction of the BER airport, where costs have spiralled from an initial budget of €1.4 billion. In May 2012, BER's grand opening was called off just three weeks before it was due, after problems relating to its fire safety and planning problems were uncovered.

Since then, its opening date has been pushed back continually, and the cost for keeping the empty airport are now thought to be running at €35 to €40 million a month. Several businesses are suing the city authorities for lost revenue caused by the delay.

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The Local/bk

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