Long-delayed new Berlin Airport may yet open

Business | 15 May 2019 2:05 pm

The German Transport Ministry has demanded assurances that the unfinished Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport can really open in October 2020, as announced by the operators.

But who is willing to give such assurances without caveats?

Not even BER Chief Executive Engelbert Lütke Daldrup is sure anymore. The German capital's new aviation hub is to eventually replace Tegel Airport in the city center and Schönefeld Airport on the outskirts, right beside where the new one is located, Detsche Welle reports.

Older folks will remember that BER was initially scheduled to open in October 2011,only to be shut down by a potential fire hazard.

The deadline has since been pushed back six times due to various construction problems.

Only last week, German media reports suggested that a large amount of nonmetal wall plugs might need to be replaced, casting doubts over whether or not the airport will open in 2020.

The existing Schönefeld Airport (SXF) is anything but spacious and posh, but keeps playing an important role

Despite its status as a target of ridicule and derision in the German and foreign media, travelers in Berlin don't seem to be missing much for the time being, as DW found out chatting to people at Schönefeld Airport (SXF).

Poles living in the western parts of their country are among the most frequent foreign users of that airport as it offers more routes than, say, the Polish airport of Szczecin (some 90 miles, away from Schönefeld).

"Personally, I think that this smaller airport here in Schönefeld is also efficient — I've used both, also Tegel, and I'm OK," one Polish traveler said when asked if he was  eager for the new Berlin Airport to open. .

"Maybe, it would be better to have just one central airport in Berlin. But I'm not really missing the unfinished airport right now, it's good for me the way it is."

Ask Germans what they make of the unfinished airport, and their answers range from indifference, to understanding of the situation, to indignation.

"The fact that the airport is still not completed is certainly annoying," says a young German woman in the presence of her friend. "But we're not from the Berlin area and do not really think about it so much. Travelwise, we have other options, if Berlin doesn't work out."

Her friend is not quite as sanguine about it. "Well, we live in Germany, and as German taxpayers it's our problem, too," he says. "We've come to the point where everyone is asking what's going wrong here. There's always something new that's not working."

Another German traveler indicates he'd love to see the new airport opening soon, as Schönefeld isn't quite up to the mark in his eyes. "Everything feels a bit makeshift here, including the main hall and the check-in area, but so what?"

The BER operator has already begun allocating space to airlines Easyjet, Lufthansa and Eurowings. 

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