Berlin Brandenburg airport ‘on track’ to open in October 2020

After several years of delays, the controversial Berlin-Brandenburg Airport (BER) will open next fall following a last series technical tests, said its CEO Lütke Daldrup.

Berlin Brandenburg airport 'on track' to open in October 2020
The main terminal of the Berlin Brandenburg airport. Photo: DPA

Starting on Monday, final technical tests were due to be carried out on the construction site in Schönefeld, in the south of the city.

“The tests in July are on track with our schedule until the opening of the BER in October 2020,” Airport CEO Lütke Daldrup told dpa. 

The so called ‘Wirk-Prinzip-Prüfung (Effect Principle Test) is an important prerequisite before the airport can receive its final acceptance from authorities. 

BER’s original opening was planned for October 2011, but was postponed at the last minute due to concerns about fire safety. 

SEE ALSO: Berlin's new airport 'may never open': planner

Over 40 working days, or two months, the independent working group Rhineland Technical Inspectorate (TÜV Rheinland) will ensure that different parts of the airport function well together. 

For example, the fire alarms and back-up electricity supply will be put to the test simultaneously. Before such systems were only carried out individually. 

Various other construction shortcomings, technical problems and planning errors have already caused the opening of BER to be delayed six times. 

The airport has also been plagued by corruption allegations and legal disputes revolving around the financing of the project. 

SEE ALSO: Berlin airport employee jailed for taking huge bribe

In May 2018, the project was pushed back further after the airport announced plans to construct an additional terminal.

It is slated to accommodate six million more passengers per year, and increase the airport's total capacity to 28 million passengers. 

SEE ALSO: Berlin airport plans to build additional terminal – before grand opening

Ongoing scepticism

The seemingly endless delays and disputes led both the airport’s previous CEO Hartmut Mehdorn and former longtime Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit to step down in 2015.

In May, CEO Daldrup had expressed skepticism that the airport could be opened by October 2020 due to mounting technical problems.

A report from TÜV Rheinland counted a total of 11,581 technical issues, including with the airport’s fire control and security technology. 

Doubts continue to arise about whether BER will truly open by October 2020 due to the previous setbacks.

Christian Gräff (CDU), chairman in the BER investigative committee in the Abgeordnetenhaus (House of Representatives) doubted the “last minute” timeline.

“So far neither German air traffic control nor the airlines have been informed. They need a good year to prepare for a move,” said Gräff.

German transport minister Andreas Scheuer also published a letter in June casting doubt on what he considered to be too quick of a final timeline. 

Germany’s federal government owns 26 percent of the airport, and the rest is shared between the states of Berlin and Brandenburg.

Currently flight passengers in the region use either Berlin's Tegel airport or the old Berlin Schönefeld airport. 


The opening – (die) Eröffnung

Construction shortcomings/errors – (die) Baumängel 

To delay – Verzögern

Fire control – (der) Brandschutz

Doubt – (der) Zweifel 

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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?