Berlin’s ‘Ghost’ Airport Finally Opens, Billions Over Budget and 9 Years Late

Berlin Tempelhof Airport, which closed in 2008

By Anna Breuer on 27 October 2020
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Berlin Brandenburg Airport Willy Brandt will – hold your breath – open its doors to passengers on October 31, 2020.    No, this isn’t our April 1 edition: This time, BER will really open, or so it would appear.

The aerodrome has been under construction for over 14 years, it is nine years past its original opening date, and it is more than $4 billion over budget. Every month, it costs several million euros just to keep the not-yet-open airport up and running.

Along the way, six opening dates have come and gone and the total cost of the airport is approaching a figure ten times that of the initial budget and could reach €10 billion ($11.8 billion).  The airport was originally planned to open in October 2011, five years after starting construction in 2006. However, the project encountered a series of delays over almost a decade-long period due to poor construction planning, execution, management, and corruption.

Berlin-Tegel Otto Lilienthal Airport, two years ago

Now that it’s about to open, few are traveling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The new airport is intended to replace nearby Schönefeld as well as Berlin Tegel Otto Lilienthal and Tempelhof airports.  Schönefeld’s terminal will become BER’s Terminal 5 while Tegel is scheduled to close on November 8, 2020.  Tempelhof closed in 2008.   Tegel, incidentally, is named after the German aviation pioneer, Otto Lilienthal.

Few will mourn the overcrowded and congested Tegel when it says Auf Wiedersehen to its last flight.  It somehow managed to maintain its Soviet-era charm(despite being in the West) well into the 21st century, even though the Berlin Wall came down in 1991.

Departures board at Berlin Tegel Airport

Meanwhile, Tempelhof, Germany’s most famous airport, opened to flights in 1927 and became a part of history during the Berlin airlift of 1948-49 when the city was blockaded by the Soviet Union. It’s now a park and can be rented as a location for films.

In a nod to Tempelhof and Tegel, the new airport’s two lounges will be named Lounge Tempelhof and Lounge Tegel. Lounge Tempelhof will be what was originally intended as the Air Berlin lounge, but that airline shut down in 2017.  Air Berlin, of course, was intended to be an anchor tenant of the new airport but failed to remain in business long enough to see it realized.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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