After 14 years of building and endless failures, Germany’s most embarrassing construction project Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) has finally received the green light to go ahead from building inspectors.
The chief safety inspection by the Tüv and responsible general planner of the project have signed off the required documents and submitted them to the authorities for final approval which now is all but a formality.
With planning it has taken over two decades to finally schedule an opening of the airport and I’m surprised that this project has now been signed off on as a news report from last month revealed that there are still over 5000 defects to be taken care of.
The Lufthansa Group has already started to schedule flights to gradually move from Berlin-Tegel to the new Berlin-Brandenburg Airport so passengers should carefully check their schedule if traveling to/from Berlin starting late October.
Yesterday Germany’s Handelsblatt (access here) reported that the second last and most critical hurdle for the opening of the airport has been completed.
For years the general inspectors responsible for safety and building integrity have refused to sign off on the project as safety standards weren’t met and several relevant errors surfaced. The project has become an international embarrassment for Germany and especially Berlin’s local politicians who from the beginning insisted to run the project themselves. A fateful decision as it turned out.
Germany had a very severe fire at Duesseldorf Airport in the 1990s where several people lost their lives and since then the authorities are extremely careful with public building standards. Back then it turned out that the fire safety system was insufficient. As such nobody wanted to take responsibility of signing the BER into service considering the substantial list of deficiencies.
The airport executives stated that the scheduled opening of BER International has never been as safe as it is right now. “Only” the local authorities need to clear it now which is all but a political/administrative decision as the safety inspections are now completed. According to the airport CEO Berlin currently handles only 1-2% of their regular traffic as most flights have been suspended during COVID-19.
There will be very little to no political appetite for further delays and embarrassments in the capital city and it is expected that this matter will now fast track it’s way through the last steps towards opening.
It took long enough to have this facility finally opened and in the process Germany suffered a lot of reputational damage for all the foul ups that occurred during the construction. The report about the 5000 various construction is just a month old, hopefully they’ll be able to fix most of those prior to the set opening date if at all relevant.
That the opening falls into the year of Coronavirus could actually help airport management unwillingly as it allows for a “soft start” with very reduced capacity assuming the entire spiel lasts until November.