Troubled new Berlin airport faces fresh delay
BERLIN, Sept 5 — Berlin’s new main airport, already dogged by delays, will not open until October next year, media reported yesterday, dealing a further blow to city and airport officials.
Initially scheduled to open on June 3 this year and replace the city’s current two hubs — Schoenefeld and Tegel — the Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport was delayed indefinitely in May after problems over fire safety.
Mass circulation Bild and others said the airport would now not open until Oct 27 next year. A meeting of the firm responsible for building the airport is to be held on Friday where the new opening date is likely to be announced.
The scandal surrounding the project has dented the popularity of the city’s mayor Klaus Wowereit, accused of incompetence and underestimating the problems linked to the construction.
The country’s top two airlines — Lufthansa and Air Berlin — have also expressed outrage over the repeated delays to the project, on the site of the current Schoenefeld Airport, in the south-east of the city.
Berlin’s airports are not the country’s busiest, with Schoenefeld and Tegel combined welcoming around 24 million visitors a year — less than half the 56 million passengers serviced at Frankfurt airport in western Germany.
But the new airport, to be named after former chancellor Willy Brandt, was intended to accommodate the sharp rise in air traffic to the region seen in the two decades since the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification.
It is due to service around 27 million passengers a year.
Berliners were already mourning the closure of Tegel, which is relatively close to the city centre and whose small, hexagonal main terminal is a 1960s relic that allows passengers to hop in or out of a taxi just outside their gate. — AFP-Relaxnews