‘We’ll offer Berliners connections to the entire world – through Munich and Frankfurt’

It is not just the collapse of Air Berlin that is likely to ensure Berlin remains a remote province of the skies. Plans for the new airport have left Lufthansa unconvinced that it can offer significant long-haul flights from the capital.

‘We’ll offer Berliners connections to the entire world - through Munich and Frankfurt’
BER airport. Photo: DPA

In an interview published in the Berliner Morgenpost on Monday, Lufthansa board member Harry Hohmeister was clear about where he saw Berlin in the pecking order of German airports.

“Berlin’s new airport won’t become an air hub, it’s too small for that,” he said.

He stated that “little will change. Things will stay as they are, we'll offer Berliners connections to the whole world – over our hub airports.”

“We already have four hub airport in Munich, Frankfurt, Zurich and Vienna, which are all relatively close together, we don’t need another,” he stated.

Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER), which was supposed to finally provide an modern, international airport to the German capital which would replace the out-of-date cold-war era airports currently serving the city.

But years of delays and planning errors mean that the airport is vastly over budget and planners still refuse to say when it will open. Airlines have also criticized the site of the airport, with Ryanair arguing for Tegel airport in the north of the city to stay open to meet the demand for flights into the German capital.

Hohmeister said he doubted whether Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) will have the capacity to meet future transport needs.

“If the proposed plans for extending the airport are meant for the next 20 years, there is no way that they will suffice,” he warned.

Lufthansa have agreed to take over substantial portions of Air Berlin, which went bankrupt in August. Germany’s biggest airliner has invested €1.5 billion in buying up 80 percent of their stricken rival.

With Air Berlin out of the picture, there are no other airlines in sight which would look to use BER as a hub for long distance flights.

Hohmeister confirmed that Lufthansa would offer direct flights between Berlin and New York starting in November.

But when it comes to much of the rest of the world, the people of the capital will still have to travel to a significant airport before they can board a flight to their actual destination.

READ MORE: The never-ending story – How BER airport became the laughing stock of Berlin