Opening of New Berlin Airport Delayed

By Paul Riegler on 9 May 2012
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Berlin Brandenburg International Airport, which was to have opened on June 3, will not see passengers for at least three more months. 

Also known as Willy Brandt Airport, named after the Cold War-era German chancellor and Berlin mayor, the airport was originally to have opened last year.  The cause for the latest delay is the lack of fully functional smoke extractors, which have already been installed at BER but aren’t likely to be fully operational at the beginning of June.

The lack of functioning smoke extractors could result in a catastrophe in the event of a fire, as they are designed to remove dangerous fumes from the building.

The delay wreaks havoc on airlines and passengers, as thousands have booked flights that would either arrive at or depart from BER starting June 3.

Under the original schedule, the German capital’s two existing airports, Tegel and Schönefeld, were to close on June 2.  (Berlin’s third airport, Tempelhof, closed in 2008.)  They will continue to operate until BER opens.

Lufthansa, Germany’s flag carrier, and Air Berlin are the two main operators and together would be responsible for roughly 60% of the new airports’ flights.  The airport will also be a hub for Germania, Easyjet, and Germanwings.

Lufthansa was expecting to quadruple the number of flights it operates out of Berlin with the opening of BER and is trying to obtain temporary slots at Tegel to accommodate these flights.  Air Berlin had planned six daily waves of traffic and says it will be unable to temporarily move these flights to another airport.

(Photo: Yu Ming)

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