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New Berlin airport 'should open next March'

The Local · 17 May 2012, 14:40

Published: 17 May 2012 14:40 GMT+02:00

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A marathon meeting of the supervisory board of the Willy Brandt Airport (BER) which ran through Wednesday night decided there was so much more to be done that the best part of a year more would be needed.

Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit, who heads the board, said on Thursday morning that the new start date would be March 17, 2013.

Work on the enormous project will continue without chief planner Manfred Körtgen, who was fired, according to several German newspapers.

He has already been followed by the office of renowned architect Meinhard von Gerkan, according to the Berliner Morgenpost.

The office, known as Gerkan, Marg and Partner (gmp) said in a statement that it didn't have any responsibility for the airport delays.

"As architects we can confirm that we have without reservation fulfilled our responsibilities," the paper quoted the firm as saying. The company noted that it has successfully completed many airports, including Berlin-Tegel, Stuttgart and Hamburg.

Rumours are also swirling about the safety of the man broadly in charge of the project Rainer Schwarz, head of the executive board, the Berliner Zeitung newspaper said on Thursday.

The board went into its meeting on Wednesday lunchtime, with a result expected late in the evening, but the 15 members holed themselves up in a container that served as a conference room at the airport construction site and stayed until the early hours of Thursday.

The long-awaited opening of the massive project was called off just a few weeks before the June 3 planned opening, with the official reason given as problems with the fire protection system.

Since then it has become clear that there were many more reasons behind the missed deadline, the Berliner Zeitung said. Work was significantly behind schedule in numerous areas. If the airport had opened on time it would have remained a massive construction site for months, the paper wrote.

Story continues below…

Airline Air Berlin said this week it expected to make a claim for damages from those responsible. The fall-out from the delay is enormous, leaving many airlines with entire schedules which need to be reworked, as well as countless other secondary businesses having to reorganise.

The Local/mw/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

22:30 May 17, 2012 by McM
It is always amazing how Berlin manages to stuff up and everyone just grumbles and goes on as if it is the norm. The mayor with all due respect couldn't, run a chook raffle in a pub let alone manage the building of an airport via the cities get rich quick cronies and project management crew. The city has a huge debt compared to many other German states yet it's all oki doki and we all turn a blind eye cos the Mayors a nice guy. Give me a break.
03:36 May 18, 2012 by raandy
They actually compared this opening to the opening of terminal 5 and said they expected less problems. That has to be the biggest gaff of this decade.
07:46 May 18, 2012 by The-ex-pat
This is a very narrow report on the problem. Bear a thought for all the people who had been taken on for new positions with contracts to start on the 3rd. All the small businesses, paper kiosks, flower shops, cafes etc, all of which have ordered produce and goods. Think about all those people who had to move due to the commute.They either now have to commute from BER back to TXL, have to find new accommodation because there present accommodation has new people read to move in. Maybe a few are lucky enough to be able to stay with in the accommodation that they had cancelled to move to BER. I have colleagues that fall into all the above categories. Nice that the papers only report the main story and do not give any lines to the human story that is running next to it. The idiots running this project have known for the last 6 maybe 9 months that the airport could not open online, but have buried their collective heads in the sand hoping that it would go away. The disregard that they have shown for everyone is verging on criminal.
09:25 May 18, 2012 by catjones
I've witnessed smaller scaled commercial developments in germany with similar mismanagement. A high-rise in Berlin goes up and the guy across the street sues because the new building 'blocks' his sunlight.....the project halts and goes to court. (Permits?).

A friend buys an office floor on the condition zoning is modified to residential. No opposition. New building. It took 12 months!

A four-story addition goes up and nears completion. The adjoining neighbor claims encroachment on his property line. 12 months in court and still counting.

Two weeks before go-live and the airport project gets a year's extension (with no assurances).

Simply amazing.
17:00 May 23, 2012 by gkh50
To be honest, it is the Programmes steering board who should be fired as they would have known the delays and did not manage it (either by improving the time line or escalating for an extension etc etc)
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