Firms behind Berlin airport offered million-euro bonuses
The bosses of Berlin’s new international airport have been criticized for offering bonuses to the companies building the long-delayed and over-budget project.
Karsten Mühlenfeld, the head of the state-owned company responsible for Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER), told Bild am Sonntag that construction companies were being offered financial incentives to speed up their work on the building so that it can be opened by the end of 2017.
According to Tagesspiegel, the potential bonuses add up to around €10 million. Each construction company could receive around €1 million.
Costs for BER, which was supposed to open in 2011, have skyrocketed from an original projection of €2.5 billion to €6.4 billion.
The bonuses will only be paid if the passenger terminal is ready by July 2017.
News that companies which have participated in a project dogged by scandal, corruption and delays could receive such bonuses met with immediate criticism from members of the Berlin Senate.
“I have a few questions for the airport hierarchy that I won’t be saying in public,” said Berlin finance minister Christian Görke of Die Linke (The Left Party).
Berlin authorities have pledged that the airport will open in 2017, six years behind schedule. A major cause of the delay has been problems with fire detection systems which did not meet national fire safety standards.
An internal report seen by Bild earlier in the year suggests that the airport is unlikely to open before 2019, with work currently crawling along at a snail’s pace.
One former project planner for the airport has even suggested that the airport will never open due to complications involved in rebuilding its fire safety systems.
On social media, news of the bonuses was met with ridicule.
“Airport: ‘The building should have been ready in 2012’. Builders: ‘But, fire safety…’ Airport: ‘And if we give a bonus?’ Builders: ‘Done!'”
According to internal information, the terms of the contract are such that it is only paid if the passenger terminal is ready in July 2017 and released for use. And the airport has not managed in the last year, basically all the self-imposed deadlines, delays never caught up. Recently, the last planning application had been submitted so late in the building control office of the circle Dahme-Spreewald. A start before the spring of 2018, according to the daily mirror research, therefore, unrealistic.
Below are some earlier stories about Berlin Brandenburg airport:
News about Berlin Brandenburg Airport
EU clears massive €2.2bn investment package by German government to complete Berlin Brandenburg airport
The European Commission has approved financial support for Berlin’s long-delayed airport project, deciding that German government funding aimed at completing the facility is in line with EU state aid rules. The EU said the planned investment is “made on market terms and will thus involve no state aid to airport operator FBB.” FBB is co-owned by the Berlin city authority, the surrounding region of Brandenburg and the German federal government. In January 2016, Germany notified plans by the airport’s public shareholders to grant a €1.1 billion shareholder loan and a shareholder guarantee covering additional debt financing of up to €1.1 billion to FBB. The financing to be covered by the shareholder guarantee will be provided by commercial banks. Part of the investment is to address technical issues (for example, with the fire protection system), and to enhance noise protection. The rest will be used to increase capacity, as traffic growth will exceed the previous forecasts on which the initial project was based. Interventions by public authorities in companies can be considered free of state aid when they are carried out at conditions that a private investor would have accepted (according to the so-called “market economy investor principle” – even if no private investor had considered the investment attractive. The airport was initially meant to open in 2011 but has had a succession of show-stopping problems.
Speculation that Berlin Brandenburg might never open, as its problems are so expensive
The man in charge of planning Berlin’s Brandenburg airport, which has had a catalogue of major problems, says it now may never open. It might be pulled down. It was meant to open in 2010, but had real problems with the fire extinguisher system, which did not work. Every year, the date of possible opening is pushed further back. Now it seems the myth of German national efficiency is under threat. The airport is already £5 billion over budget and a national disgrace for a country that prides itself on technical excellence. The chief planner, until 1999, doubted if it would ever open. After the fire issue, which required the removal of hundreds of defective firewalls, there were also hundreds of miles of wiring that had to be ripped out of leaking underground conduits. The luggage relay systems did not work, and the computer system was so complex that for years nobody could work out how to turn off the lights. They blazed 24/7. Every month, the delay costs about £15 million, including cleaning costs and lighting to prevent vandalism. The Times says the airport’s PR chief “who, rather too truthfully, told journalists that claims of the project going well were “bullshit”.” If it does ever open (2018, 2019?) it will already be too small, and another runway may be added ….
Berlin Brandenburg airport problem of terminal ceiling being too heavy ….. already years late, hugely over budget
Berlin’s long-delayed Brandenburg airport has suffered another setback after structural flaws were found in the terminal roof. It appears that the ceiling in the terminal building is too heavy. The airport, which was originally due to open in 2010, is still under construction and has run billions of Euros over budget. It was expected to open in 2017 but that could be postponed even further. The local building authority said it had told the construction firm to “immediately stop building works for the area underneath the entire terminal roof of the BER airport” until security checks could be carried out by engineers. The airport’s CEO has left the company. Earlier this year Air Berlin, which is currently running at a loss, reached a settlement with the airport over the delays as it had planned on making BER its main hub airport. The first problems noted were to do with the smoke and fire detection problem. The proposed solution, (which was not surprisingly rejected) was (paraphrased) for 800 low-paid workers armed with cell phones, sitting on camping stools, armed with thermos flasks, who would take up positions throughout the terminal. If anyone smelled smoke or saw a fire, they would alert the airport fire station and direct passengers toward the exits” The airport’s cost, borne by taxpayers, has tripled to €5.4 billion.