Berlin airport opening delayed indefinitely

7 Jan 2013 by BusinessTraveller

German media reports today suggest that the opening of Berlin’s new Brandenburg airport (BER) has been delayed yet again.

This time it is understood that no new date for BER’s opening has been set owing to on-going technical problems. 

BER was originally supposed to open in June last year. Now the latest opening date could be in 2014 or even 2015.  What seems clear is that the former predicted date of October this year will not be met.

There is now political pressure on Berlin’s mayor Klaus Wowereit (who was involved in the project) to resign over the fiasco.

In addition aviation experts are predicting that when the airport does eventually open it will be full up from day one. They are warning that the new airport will not have enough check-in counters or baggage conveyor belts to cope with passenger numbers at busy times.

Any further delay will impact on the airlines currently using overcrowded Tegel (currently Berlin’s main international airport) and, in particular, Oneworld member Air Berlin who had planned to turn BER into its main hub.

Troubled Air Berlin today saw current CEO Harmut Mehdorn (formerly the head of rail network Deutsche Bahn) replaced with immediate effect by ex-bmi chief Wolfgang Prock-Schauer.

Also at the losing end is the 322-room first class Steigenberger Hotel which was built specifically for BER but which, despite being ready for business last August, has stood empty.

While spare a thought for Deutsche Bahn which is running up bills in operating regular “ghost trains” in and out of BER’s new and unused airport station in order to keep the infrastructure in working order.

Finally, the problems at BER had aroused so much public interest that a German online betting company “Bet-24” had been taking bets on when the airport would actually open.

But a Berlin court has now banned the practise. In a ruling passed on December 23, the court said that in its opinion, “Betting on events that do not take place in reality, but only in the imagination of the parties [is] in violation of common decency.”

Report by Alex McWhirter

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