New Berlin airport 'cannot service its loans'
A row has broken out over Berlin’s new – and very late – airport, after it was revealed that the corporation building it only has financing to last until the end of the year and is not considered credit worthy.
The new Willy Brandt airport was due to open in June, but just weeks before the opening ceremony, the plans were cancelled and the start date pushed back to next March.
A new project manager was appointed to take care of the multitude of problems that still remain to be solved at the airport. He has since also questioned the new opening date of March 17, 2013.
Now it appears the financing of the project is doubtful. Initially set to cost €2.8 billion, the airport is now likely to cost more than €4.2 billion according to latest estimates.
Even the financial guarantees put up by the three shareholders – the states of Berlin and Brandenburg, and the federal government – are not enough to pay all the bills, the BZ newspaper said on Thursday.
The airport corporation (FBB) will have to find around €1.17 billion that it does not have, the paper said.
“Under the current costs and receipts structure the airport corporation is not in a position to continue to service the loans,” said the Brandenburg state government in answer to a written question from Ludwig Burkardt, finance spokesman for the state Christian Democratic Union.
“Insolvency could be registered as early as November,” he told the paper.
FBB spokesman Ralf Kunkel said this estimate was harsh. “There is no problem with liquidity at the airport corporation. The estimate is that the money will last until the end of the year and this has not changed,” he said.
The next board meeting on August 16 will discuss how the €1.17 billion needed after that can be found, he said.
But Burkardt said it was not just the missing €1.17 billion that was tricky.
“The big problem is that the FBB can no longer service the loans it has, and which were awarded to it on the basis of the guarantees of the shareholders,” he said.
This is most likely to result in the taxpayer shelling out more money to keep the corporation afloat – or the European Union could rule that a publicly-funded rescue would be against the rules, and force the corporation to be sold, as it did in the rescue of Berlin's state bank.