Daily Management Review

New Berlin airport may never be opened


One of the designers of the new Berlin-Brandenburg airport named after Willy Brandt (BER) believes that the building may never be opened. It was originally planned that the airport will be put into operation in 2011, but the opening was postponed several times. Now, the Berlin authorities expect that the Berlin-Brandenburg will take its first passengers in 2017.

Dieter Faulenbach da Costa, who had taken part in the new airport’s design-and-development stage until 1999, said to local newspaper Berliner Morgenpost that Berlin-Brandenburg Airport named after Willy Brandt (BER) may never be set up. Recall that the opening of the Berlin-Brandenburg airport, which construction started in 2006, has been repeatedly postponed. Originally, it was planned for October 2011. Subsequently, the opening date was shifted to June 2012. However, inspections found serious problems in the airport’s the fire protection system a month before. The date was changed again – first, for March 2013, and later - October 2013th. In January 2013, the opening was postponed for the fourth time - to 2014. At the beginning of March 2014, it was announced that the launch of BER will be held in March 2016, and then, once again, it was postponed. Now, the authorities name the end of 2017 as the most likely date of the new airport’s opening. The construction budget over the years has increased from € 1.7 to € 5,2 billion.

The main reason for the repeatedly postponed opening date was the need to fix the problems in the fire protection system. According to Mr. Faulenbach da Costa, modification of airport sprinkler system questions the project’s entire implementation. "Restructuring of the fire protection system, which has lasted four years, may interfere with the opening of the new airport," - he said. According to him, the airport management abandoned the old sprinkler system too hastily. "They decided to adopt a restructuring project that requires additional permissions rather than complete the installation of firefighting equipment, which correspond to the original permission for the construction" - added Mr. Faulenbach da Costa.  

Lars Wagner, spokesman for the airport, commented the publication: "We have already spoken on Friday about these problems and our current opening plan. We have nothing to add to that." Last Friday, a meeting of the supervisory board of the airport confirmed that the BER will open in late 2017. Berlin’s Mayor Michael Muller added, however, some amendments: "Although the deadline is approaching with every day, it is still possible to finish the work in 2016 and begin flights in 2017. ... It does not matter whether it opens in December 2017 or January 2018. It is important that it will be finished."