• Germany's news in English

Fury as new Berlin airport opening delayed

The Local · 8 May 2012, 17:54

Published: 08 May 2012 12:22 GMT+02:00
Updated: 08 May 2012 17:54 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The brand new Berlin-Brandenburg Willy Brandt airport was scheduled to open in less than a month, replacing the Tegel and Schönefeld airports which were slated to close on the day of the Willy Brandt opening.

They will now remain open until the - unspecified - day when the new airport is ready.

“It is unclear when the airport will be opened, whether in August or in September. Security comes first,” said Brandenburg’s state Interior Minister Dietmar Woidke on Tuesday.

The announcement left German air traffic control (DFS) scrambling to inform airlines of the change in plans. Ralph Riedle, DFS manager told the Financial Times Deutschland they were only told on Tuesday.

"We have to tell all those airlines world wide who will be affected, that they will have to change their schedules," he said. This will be a huge effort, and was "unusual" he said, because of the short-term information policy of the airport operators.

Airport chief Rainer Schwarz admitted he was "bitterly disappointed" said he was now aiming for an opening "after the summer break", without setting a date.

He was joined at a news conference by Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit and Brandenburg state premier Matthias Platzeck, who said he could not deny that he was "furious" about the shock announcement.

"This is not a good day for Berlin-Brandenburg airport, the citizens of our states and the many visitors to our region," Wowereit added.

"You can imagine that we did everything possible in the last few months to try to achieve an opening date of June 3."

The massive construction project has been dogged by delays and the original opening scheduled for 2007 has already been pushed back several times.

This time the problems were with the fire escape system, such as warnings and door closure systems, Woidke said.

“For that reason, a safety approval cannot be granted. They are not there yet,” he said.

Insiders at Lufthansa, which has been planning to increase its flights in and out of the German capital through the new airport, said it needed a functioning airport in Berlin.

There was some understanding for the delay at the airline's annual general meeting in Cologne on Tuesday.

Story continues below…

"The kind of chaos that was seen at London Heathrow cannot be repeated in Berlin," a high-ranking Lufthansa official said, referring to the 2008 public relations disaster that was the opening of the Heathrow fifth terminal.

The new Berlin airport is set to cost at least €2.5 billion and has required a new stretch of motorway as well as a rail extension and new station. It has been designed to deal with around 27 million passengers a year.

This latest delay is far from the first for the mega project, but must surely be the most embarrassing - the capital is plastered with posters advertising the June opening, which now will not be happening.

DPA/DAPD/AFP/The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

13:51 May 8, 2012 by catjones
After years of planning, construction and testing a month before opening they find out they're months behind? Not possible. Finger-pointing and fist fights would have been going on for weeks, not to mention cost over run penalties. Call my lawyers!
18:05 May 8, 2012 by William Thirteen
this made my day! now i've at least another two months to enjoy TXL - the best designed airport in the world!
20:33 May 8, 2012 by wood artist
Option 1

Open "on time" knowing it's not ready, that things will be a complete disaster, and that (in this case) the safety of users is compromised at a time when employees will be still learning how the place works and where things are. Flights are messed up, passengers probably fail to make connections, and the place is generally a complete fiasco.

Option 2

Open "late" but with a much higher likelihood that things will actually work and safety won't be compromised. Airlines and passengers will have to deal with arriving at TXL, but they'll likely still arrive, more or less on time, and with some expectation that their bags will arrive too. Bosses are embarrassed by the delay in opening.

Between those two, I'd take #2. Every time! Yeah, it's not great, but having seen the disaster at Heathrow, and the complete meltdown at Denver, this is the right decision. A little "egg on the face" is easier to clean up than the lingering memories of trips gone all wrong.

12:43 May 11, 2012 by chrishale53
What nonsense - this IS a public relations disaster:

"The kind of chaos that was seen at London Heathrow cannot be repeated in Berlin," a high-ranking Lufthansa official said, referring to the 2008 public relations disaster that was the opening of the Heathrow fifth terminal.

What sanctimonious piffle.
Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd