It’s finally done: After 14 years of construction and 200% over budget, Germany’s most embarrassing construction project Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) has finally opened it’s gates and doors, on October 31, 2020.
Berlin-Schönefeld Airport is now the official Terminal 5 of BER with the main building of the airport being Terminal 1 and in just a few days – Saturday November 7th – the old Tegel Airport will cease all operations.
To say it’s been a rough road for Berlin-Brandenburg BER would be the understatement of the century.
The project that was once scheduled to cost around 2 Billion Euro has now tripled in price to 6.5 Billion Euro and the management has already announced that it’s pretty much insolvent, needing a 300 Million Euro financial support package from the shareholders (government) until 2024. Very ikely that it’ll be much more than that.
Lufthansa and EasyJet operated the first flights out of BER on Sunday and Lufthansa had designed an Airbus A320neo for the occasion:
There was a great report at DW Deutsche Welle (German International News) about the opening.
An EasyJet airliner and a plane from Germany’s flagship carrier Lufthansa were the first to land at Berlin’s new airport. The day wasn’t without turbulence, though, as environmental activists stole the show.
The opening of the Berlin-Brandenburg Willy Brandt airport on Saturday and was greeted with ceremonial plane landings and protests from climate activists.
EasyJet beat German flagship airline Lufthansa in arriving first at the multibillion-euro complex but it was the activists who landed the earliest blow. …
Activists sought to disrupt proceedings, marching on the building to show their opposition to the new facility. One protester glued himself to the door of a plane, others scaled the terminal to hang placards and many attended dressed as penguins. …
The airport’s official opening was greeted with as much fanfare as one could expect from a 14-year affair that has become a national embarrassment.
In the midst of the world’s most severe pandemic in a century, the first landings were met by a water salute from airport firefighters.
“Finally we can put our airport into operation … finally,” airport CEO Engelbert Lütke Daldrup said at a brief opening ceremony with national and regional officials. “It was a long road. It wasn’t an easy road. Everyone who is gathered here today knows that so we aren’t celebrating a party today. We are just opening.” …
“The time for jokes about the BER must be over now,” said Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer, adding that the country needed to start a new “economic miracle” to recover from the pandemic.
So apart from a few environmentalist clowns you now got a highly controversial politician, Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer reminding people they should stop making jokes about the BER failings. As if that every worked.
To remind everyone, Scheuer is the guy who signed multi-Billion Euro contracts with companies related to the German Highway Toll system before it was every certain the system would go live. Needless to say the contracts went bust and the German taxpayer is on the hook for a fortune while the man himself (to everybodys amazement) is still in office. That’s Germany 2020 for you!
This airport project embarrassed and humiliated managers, engineers, politicians and the country as a whole. This moniker will stay for decades and it isn’t even clear if and when BER will ever be profitable considering the state of the aviation industry right now and the fact that the airport is already out of cash before the first flight took off.
The only person that (in my opinion) deserves respect in these circumstances is airport CEO Engelbert Lütke Daldrup who agreed to take on this disaster and funneled it to a successful opening without allowing anyone to engage in an embarrassing victory lap, let alone a party.
When this whole Covid mess is behind us I’ll make a trip to Germany and have a look at this airport myself. As luck would have it they just discovered that someone forgot to install escalators going down to the regional train terminal. Well done!