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Berlin airport delayed until October 2013

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Berlin airport delayed until October 2013
Photo: DPA
12:44 CEST+02:00
Berlin's new main airport, already dogged by embarrassing delays, will not open until October next year, it was confirmed on Tuesday. The news is a further blow to government officials and airport officials.

The Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport (BER) had been scheduled to open in June this year, but just weeks before hand, everything was put on hold after problems over fire safety emerged. A new manager was appointed and a provisional new date of March 2013 was announced.

The corporation responsible for building the airport is due to meet on Friday, where an even later opening date is expected to be announced.

Brandenburg's state premier Matthias Platzeck confirmed on Tuesday that this new date would be late October 2013.

The scandal surrounding the project has dented the popularity of Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit, accused of incompetence and underestimating the problems linked to the construction.

The country's top two airlines, Lufthansa and Air Berlin, have also expressed outrage over the repeated delays to the project, on the site of the current Schönefeld Airport, in the south-east of the city.

Berlin's airports are not the country's busiest, with Schönefeld and Tegel combined welcoming around 24 million visitors a year - less than half the 56 million passengers serviced at Frankfurt airport in western Germany.

But the new airport, to be named after former chancellor Willy Brandt, was intended to accommodate the sharp rise in air traffic to the region seen in the two decades since the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification.

It is due to service around 27 million passengers a year.

Berliners were already mourning the closure of Tegel, which is relatively close to the city centre and whose small, hexagonal main terminal is a 1960s relic that allows passengers to hop in or out of a taxi just outside their gate.

Now it would seem they will be able to use it for longer than they thought.

The Local/DAPD/AFP/sh

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