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CORRUPTION

Berlin airport boss: ‘More corruption possible’

The boss of Berlin’s long-delayed new airport said on Monday he couldn’t rule out further cases of corruption in the massively over budget project which is engulfed in a bribery scandal.

Berlin airport boss: 'More corruption possible'
Mehdorn (l) and Berlin's mayor Klaus Wowereit speak to reporters on Monday. Photo: DPA

Chief executive of Berlin Brandenburg Airport Hartmut Mehdorn said further irregularities could be discovered in the awarding of past contracts. “If there is something there, we’ll find it,” Mehdorn said after a meeting of the airport’s supervisory committee.

The meeting was called following the suspension of the airport’s technical director Jochen Großmann amid allegations he demanded €500,000 from a prospective contractor. 

A working group of lawyers and anti-corruption experts will on Tuesday examine all contracts awarded by Großmann and report at the next meeting of the supervisory body on June 30th.

According to a report on Monday, Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt has called for an outside body to take control of the airport’s construction costs.

He described the latest corruption allegations as “unacceptable” and wants an independent auditing firm to examine the airport’s costs, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported.

Berlin Brandenburg was supposed to open in 2012 but the latest opening estimate is for 2016. It has been held up by fire safety problems and planning mistakes.

The project was initially expected to cost around €2 billion, but it could now reach €7 billion.

SEE ALSO: Bribery scandal hits Berlin airport

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HOUSING

These are the plans for affordable (and sustainable) housing at Berlin’s former Tegel airport

Berlin’s city government has announced plans to build 5,000 apartments - all made of wood - on the site of Tegel airport, which was closed down for good at the beginning of November.

These are the plans for affordable (and sustainable) housing at Berlin's former Tegel airport
An artists impression of the new Schumacher Quarter. Source: Tegel Projekt GmbH

“From 2021, the largest timber construction district in the world, with over 5,000 apartments, will be built in the eastern area of the former Tegel airport,” said Berlin’s housing senator Sebastian Scheel (Linke).

The new district will be called the the Schumacher Quarter.

Scheel pledged that the new housing will be both climate neutral and affordable.

“From research and development, to material production and construction, everything will takes place in one place. This could help urban timber construction to achieve a breakthrough,” said Scheel.

He added that the aim was to make the timber housing for cities 20 to 25 percent cheaper to construct than a traditional build with reinforced concrete.

Photo: DPA

The project will be overseen by the Tegel Projekt GmbH, a company entirely owned by the city of Berlin.

The city will be hoping that the project goes more smoothly than the last state-run airport build. The disastrous construction of Berlin’s new Berlin Brandenburg (BER) international airport took a decade longer than planned.

READ ALSO: Berlin Brandenburg (BER) International Airport to finally open after nine-year delay

There is still some work to do on the site before construction can begin.

“Contaminated areas and military explosives need to be removed before it starts. The first ground work is already underway,” said Scheel. Construction on the building is scheduled to begin in 2024.

“According to current planning, the education campus and the first residential buildings in the Schumacher Quarter will be ready in 2027, the last ones in the early 2030s”, he said.

The new quarter is expected to provide homes for 10,000 residents of the capital. 

Another residential build on the site of the old airport is set to bring 4,000 more apartments into a city which is plagued by a shortage of living space.

The Tegel Projekt GmbH also wants to bring together founders, students, investors, industrialists and scientists in a new urban space. 

The Urban Tech Republic will be home to up to 1,000 different companies, and there are also plans to turn the current Terminal A into a university campus.

READ MORE: What's next for Berlin's Tegel airport?

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