After 14 years of building and endless failures, Germany’s most embarrassing construction project Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) is finally set to open in two weeks, on October 31, 2020 to be exact.
A few days before, on 25th October 2020, Schönefeld Airport will already become Terminal 5 of BER even though the main Terminal 1 of the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport will be only be opening on October 31st.
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 and is actually opening since a news report from last April revealed that there were 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.
As operations merge it may very well be that passengers flying from Schönefeld in October take off from Schönefeld (SXF), but land at the new BER as the new code is applicable for all flights as of the 25th October (last day of the holidays in Berlin-Brandenburg) going from or to the Schönefeld location. The code ‘BER’ is already in the booking systems of the airlines or stored on booking platforms and will be shown on booking confirmations and tickets.
The opening of the BER will see flight operations take place in so-called “double-roof operation”, e.g. at two locations. Depending on the airline, passengers will check in and board either at T5 in the north or T1/T2 in Midfield.
According to an article in Tagesspiegel (access here – in German) everything is on schedule and there is no indicator that the opening would be delayed once again.
On October 31 – weather permitting – Lufthansa and Easyjet will make a synchronized landing on both runways and these are going to be the first official passengers that go through BER aside from the previous test runs.
But not all news are good. The airport is already deep in the red, having received 300 Million Euro in 2020 and requiring a further 540 Million in 2021 in payments from the owners (the provincial government).
Meanwhile the CEO of the Berlin Brandenburg Airport (an engineer by trade) has said there won’t be any party to commemorate the opening of the airport as the project has turned into an embarrassment for German engineers and there is no reason to be proud of this performance. Open the airport and start the operations.
Fingers crossed that things will turn out well. Those who frequently fly in and out of Berlin might end up missing Tegel and it’s easy, short ways after all. Nevertheless the terminal became an impossible puzzle of maintenance issues and it wasn’t viable to keep operating it as it currently stands. They could tear it down and rebuild… wait… NO!
I commend the current airport CEO for being realistic enough to sense that the mood of the public about Germany’s most embarrassing construction project isn’t great and that any big celebration would likely earn ridicule especially in light of the financial losses and massive cost overruns.