The much-delayed Berlin Brandenburg (BER) airport has devised a construction roadmap to keep customers updated with progress.
At the same time Berliners have begun to challenge the idea that Tegel (the city’s main airport) will be closed once BER opens.
BER was originally expected to open years ago. Numerous construction issues put the project back to 2017. But as we reported recently (see news April 4) even this date may no longer be guaranteed.
Last Friday the management of BER stated they intended to open in the second half of 2017. Yet the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Michael Mueller, and Chairman of the [Berlin] airport authority was reported in Germany’s media as sounding a note of caution, “Everyone is aware that the opening in the second half of 2017 is hard to keep up.”
Passenger traffic using Berlin’s airports has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years. It means that when BER does finally open it will be overcrowded from day one.
Let me explain. BER has a design capacity of 27 million and was expected to handle 22 million for its original opening date. But last year alone, the city’s two airports handled 29.5 million passengers.
The original plan was to close Tegel and Schonefeld when BER opened. Now it’s believed Schonefeld will remain open for a few years (after BER opens) and there is hope that Tegel will not be closed entirely.
Campaigning group “Berlin braucht Tegel” (Berlin needs Tegel) has been established. Already 28,000 Berliners have signed its petition. However a total of 175,000 signatures are needed for a referendum to be held.
Berlin’s other Schonefeld airport, mainly used by budget airlines, is already congested. Easyjet is the third largest airline in Berlin after Lufthansa and Air Berlin. Its CEO Carolyn McCall recently visited Berlin and told Tagesspiegel that “Schonefeld is for us a big problem. We constantly urge the airport authority to ensure greater passenger comfort.”
“Our customers ask what is going on in Berlin? When will BER finally open?” she said.
Meanwhile BER’s PR chief Daniel Abbou has been dismissed by airport management for being too honest. He had only been in the job for three months, reported English language thelocal.de.
Abbou gave an interview to Germany’s PR Magazine in which he noted that the construction project would not be considered a success.
He was quoted as saying “The old managers of the project messed up too much for that to be the case. Too many billions of Euros have been wasted. What we can do [from a PR perspective] is to create a sense of transparency.”
“Up until now official statements always said that the project was going well. That’s bull**** Take responsibility when something has been a sh** show,” he was quoted as saying.
Speaking about the planned opening in 2017, Abbou said “Believe me, no politician or airport director, no person who is not addicted to pills, would give you definite assurances for this airport.”