Berlin Airports

Berlin (see Wikipedia page)   Berlin Brandenburg Airport  

Now due to open ?  2017 ? 2018  2019?   Details of the many delays

The Berlin Brandenburg Airport plans to merge all air traffic for Berlin. It was due to open in June 2012. However, this was then delayed until March 2013, then delayed to October 2013, and now delayed to an unknown date in 2014.   Details  The airport would open the morning after the closure of the existing Tegel and Schönefeld airports. ( link to story about earlier delay)

However, the new opening date remains contingent on getting the approval the airport’s highly complicated smoke extraction system by officials in the state of Brandenburg. The system is supposed to pump out toxic smoke in the event of a fire in order to protect passengers inside the terminal. Officials implemented the rules following a deadly fire at the Düsseldorf airport in 1996, which result in the deaths of 17 and caused hundreds of millions in damage.  Initially, the airport had been scheduled to open on Nov. 1, 2011.

Following German reunification in 1990, the inefficiency of operating three separate airports became increasingly problematic. Berlin’s airport authority (the Berliner Flughafen GmbH, a subsidiary of the Flughafen Berlin-Schönefeld GmbH) was due to transfer all of Berlin’s air traffic to a greatly expanded airport at Schönefeld on 3 June 2012, to be renamed Berlin Brandenburg Airport. One airport would – in theory – be more efficient and would decrease the noise pollution. The existing airport in Schönefeld will be greatly expanded to the south from its current state to allow this. In fact, the new airport will only have the current southern runway (the new designated northern runway) in common with the existing airport.

Berlin Brandenburg Airport will be (they still hope)  Germany’s third busiest airport (27 millioin passengers per year) as Berlin’s airports served over 22.3 million passengers in 2010. Frankfurt Airport, which served 54 million passengers in 2007, is the country’s busiest airport, followed by Munich Airport, which served 34 million passengers in 2007.

News about Berlin Brandenburg Airport

Firms behind Berlin Brandenburg airport offered million-€ bonuses if is ready by July 2017 (6 years late)

The bosses of Berlin’s new Brandenburg airport have been criticised for offering bonuses to the companies building the long-delayed and over-budget project. 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. They will only be paid if work is finished by July 2017. The potential bonuses may add up to around €10 million. Each construction company could receive around €1 million. Berlin Brandenburg airport was meant to open in 2011, but costs have risen from an original projection of €2.5 billion to €6.4 billion. The project has had a catalogue of very serious problems, involving partial rebuilding. A key problem was the fire detection systems, which did not meet national fire safety standards There has also been scandal, and corruption. The plans for bonuses have been criticised by members of the Berlin Senate and on social media, news of the bonuses was met with ridicule. Some consider it is more likely the airport would only be ready in 2018.

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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.

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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 ….

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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.


Troubled Berlin Brandenburg airport, due to open in June 2012, could be shut down in late summer unless €1.1 billion is raised

Berlin Brandenburg (BER) airport was intended to be a huge new airport for Berlin, so Berlin-Schönefeld and Tegel airports could close. The BER was initially due to open in June 2012. It had a catalogue of problems with fire safety, smoke extraction system, and fresh air supply in the event of fire. The launch has been delayed and delayed …. last year it was hoped it might open this year. Now the airport’s CEO has announced that it is possible the construction of the airport may need to be shut down this summer, if a further €1.1 billion cannot be raised. Some €4.3 billion has already been spent, but that only lasts till this summer. Extra costs have been incurred due to the late opening, as well as the extra construction costs. A decision on how €1.1 billion can be raised is needed urgently, perhaps through bank loans, government grants or from an investor. The money has to not only be agreed by Berlin, Brandenburg and the federal government, but also needs approval from the EU Commission. Current total costs amount to €5.4 billion. Additional plans suggest additional costs amounting to an extra €2.19 billion. Although the airport has yet to open, officials are planning a possible third runway for approximately €1 billion and other new projects such as an additional terminal, expanded baggage system and another freight facility. The total additional spending would amount to €3.2 billion.

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Berlin’s Schönefeld airport ‘to stay open’ as Brandenburg airport (at huge expense) not ready till 2015 at the earliest

February 25, 2014

Berlin’s old Schönefeld airport is likely to remain open as a destination for budget airlines despite a multi-billion airport being built next to it, at Berlin Brandenburg (BER), as the new international hub is too small. It is the latest in a long line of setbacks to hit the BER, which is over budget and behind time. It will have two runways. It is expected to open in 2015 at the earliest. Officially the cost of the airport is €4.3 billion, though initial cost estimates were €1.2 and it could cost up to €6 billion. Despite the huge cost, the airport will only have a capacity of 27 million passengers a year, so its ageing neighbour, Schönefeld, will need to stay open. The original plan had been for Schönefeld, which caters for budget airlines, to merge with BER. Keeping Schönefeld in operation would increase capacity by 7.5 million passengers a year and avoid further costs of building a new terminal. Earlier it had been expected that BER could be partly in use in 2014, with 10 planes per day, but that will not happen. The airport was initially intended to open in 2010 but the multiple delays have been due to difficulties concerning fire safety, the smoke exhaust systems and construction errors. Air Berlin is suing BER for damages due to the much delayed opening.

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Berlin Brandenburg airport may be able to open for 10 flights per day by April 2014

18.8.2013      .A board overseeing the completion of Berlin’s new Brandenburg airport – subject to a string of delays – has backed a plan for its opening early next year. However, initial operations would be limited to just 10 flights, and some 1,500 passengers, per day. Airlines Air Germania and Condor set to be the first to operate there, and even that needs work on the northern wing of the airport to be completed. This might happen by March or April 2014.  An exact timetable would need to be confirmed in the next few months.The new airport has been a costly embarrassment, subject to a series of cost overruns and delays to its opening, chiefly because of a faulty fire safety system. It was originally due to open October 2011. That date was changed to June 2012, and subsequently to March 2013 and later to October 2013. It was planned to replace Berlin’s 3 smaller airports, Tegel, Schönfeld and the already-closed Tempelhof. The airport’s cost  has risen from €2.4 billion to €4.3 billion. In July there was further controversy as flight paths were found not to have been checked for their environmental impact, and will endanger wildlife and even Berlin’s water supply.     . 

Catalogue of delays and problems for the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport (Willy-Brandt)

April 9, 2013      Brandenburg (Willy Brandt) airport has become a symbol of how, even for the remarkably technologically successful Germans, things can go horribly wrong. There is currently no opening date set. It has a range of problems, many caused by such complicated and advanced computer systems and technologies, that engineers cannot work out how to fix them. Thousands of light bulbs illuminate the gigantic main terminal and the car park 24 hours per day, which is a massive cost and waste of energy; officials cannot work out how to turn them off as the computer system that’s so sophisticated it’s almost impossible to operate. Every day, an empty commuter train rolls to the unfinished airport over an 8 km stretch to keep the newly-laid tracks from getting rusty – more waste. Several escalators need to be rebuilt because they were too short; and dozen of tiles were already broken before a single airport passenger ever stepped on them. Then there are the fire system problems – with some technology that is so advanced that technicians can’t work out what’s wrong with it.     Click here to view full story…

Berlin Airport CEO Rainer Schwarz “dismissed” as opening delayed indefinitely

17 Jan 2013   Berlin Brandenburg Airport’s CEO Rainer Schwarz has been dismissed from his role “with immediate effect”.  He has been CEO since 2006. The opening of the airport is now delayed indefinitely, with no date given. This has caused great embarrassment for Berlin’s authorities.  Originally due to open in June 2012, this date was first delayed until March 17, 2013, when problems with the airport’s fire safety systems were discovered. In October 2012 it was announced that the opening would be October 27, 2013. But now fire problems are still on-going and October is no longer realistic, and even setting a new date is at least several months away. At its meeting on January 16, the board and appointed as its new chairman, Matthias Platzeck, Prime Minister of the State of Brandenburg. He will succeed Klaus Wowereit, mayor of Berlin, who held this position since 2001.  The board said that in future a triumvirate would head the company. 

Further fire safety problems at Berlin Brandenburg Airport mean it cannot open in October, so delayed till unknown date in 2014

January 8, 2013     Berlin’s Brandenburg airport was initially due to open in June 2012. It has problems with fire safety, smoke extraction system, and fresh air supply in the event of fire. Therefore the opening was put off till October 2013. It has now been announced that the airport will now open on an unknown date in 2014. Based on the previous timetable, construction work was due to be completed by May 2013 to allow a 5-month period for trial operations before the official opening. There may be other technical problems as well, such as on baggage handling. When completed, the airport will take over from the ageing Tegel and Schoenefeld airports. It is expected to be able to eventually handle up to 27 million passengers a year, but this figure has been reduced from the initial figure of 45 million. The cost of the project has risen, from an estimated £1.6 billion to more than £3.2 billion and the latest delays are likely to increase the costs further. A growing chorus of critics is calling for the city’s mayor, Klaus Wowereit, to step down over the matter.   Click here to view full story…

German Protests against night flights

and dozens of photos of the German protests on 24th November 2012 at

Frankfurt Protests against night flights (Dropbox)  and

Rhein Main Protests against night flights (Dropbox)

More details at

Around 1,000 people took part in the demonstration in Berlin.
Around 1,000 people took part in the demonstration in Berlin.(Photo: AP)
Saturday 24th, November 2012

New Berlin airport could face further delays – even into summer or autumn 2013

August 18, 2012     Berlin’s new Brandenburg airport, the opening of which is already delayed till March 2013, is likely to be still further delayed – even to summer or autumn 2013. It was meant to open in June 2012, but delay was caused by problems with the fire safety systems. The airport is trying to speed up the process, as delay is costing a great deal of money. Besides the modifications to the fire systems, authorities have now found that tens of thousands of local residents will need to have their properties soundproofed against aircraft noise owing to a mix-up in planning flight paths. This noise insulation could cost €591 million for houses in the airport’s vicinity against noise, which it would cost if noise can never exceed a maximum level of 55dB. The company had previously filed an application to allow noise levels to exceed 55dB up to 6 times a day. But this has been withdrawn, allowing only one excess of 55dB in two days. The regular, large scale noise protesters at Frankfurt airport may be influencing their decision.   Click here to view full story…


New AirportWatch BLOG.  The German Spring Takes Off

15th June 2012    On the weekend that campaigners occupy the centre of Munich, John Stewart outlines the story of the nationwide protests against airport expansion taking place in Germany, at Frankfurt, Berlin and Munich.  And the implications this has for aviation policy in the UK.  At a time when the industry is pressing once again for a third runway at Heathrow, it likes to give the impression there is little real opposition to expansion in the rest of Europe.  The German experience tells a very different story. “It is impossible at this stage to predict what will happen in Germany.  Or in France.  But the protests have almost certainly changed the landscape forever.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to expand airports anywhere in Western Europe.  That is the new reality that governments and the aviation industry have got to face up to.”  Read the blog


Berlin campaign against the opening of Berlin Brandenberg airport next year

June 5, 2012     John Stewart, Chair of AirportWatch and of HACAN, was in Berlin on Sunday 3rd June. He was speaking at a rally of over 1,000 people who demonstrated outside the town hall in Central Berlin against the new Berlin Brandenberg near Berlin, which is due to open next year. The airport was due to open this year, but this has been delayed for many months, due to safety issues. This delay has given the protesters against the airport in Berlin time to mobilise and really oppose the opening of the airport. With active protest taking place in Frankfurt against the noise from the new runway, and active opposition in Munich against a proposed 3rd runway at the airport, it is likely that a German AirportWatch will be set up, bringing together all the campaigns, and making them all more forceful in their concerted action.    Click here to view full story…


Berlin Brandenburg Airport opening date postponed – till March 2013


The new Berlin Brandenburg (Willie Brandt) airport will not now open till March 2013.  It had been due to open in June 2012, and was postponed recently until August 2012.  The problem appears be the fire safety system. The airport can only commence operations with a fully automated fire safety and control system as originally planned, and the interim solution of a partly automated system will not be allowed. This will take until December 2012. In addition, the risk would be too high to move the airport in winter due to adverse weather leading to operational restrictions.  The Managing Director Operations, responsible for the construction of the airport, will have to leave the company. Keeping open the two older Berlin airports that this one will replace will cost about €15 million a month.


Fire safety problems delay new Berlin airport yet again – opening on 3rd June delayed to late August

May 9, 2012    The opening of Berlin’s new airport will be delayed by up to 3 months due to fire safety problems. This an embarrassing blow to the German capital’s flagship project less than a month before its planned launch, which had been due for 3rd June. Berlin-Brandenburg Airport, which will also be known as Willy Brandt Airport after West Germany’s Cold War chancellor, may now open in the 2nd half of August, after the school holidays in Berlin and Brandenburg. Flights were to have been transferred from Berlin’s Tegel airport, to the new one. The problem is that the fire safety installations – notably smoke extractors – were not ready, so a safe evacuation of passengers could not yet be acheived in the event of fire. The delay will cost the two existing airports, and some airlines, money. The opening of what will be Germany’s third largest airport after Frankfurt and Munich, has been postponed once already.    Click here to view full story…

Noise ban provides nightmares for German airports and airlines but better sleep for campaigning residents

April 21, 2012      GreenAir online has a long and comprehensive article about what has been going on in Germany recently, with the huge protests at Frankfurt against the 4th runway, and against night flights – which have now been stopped over a 6 hour period. Also the protests at Cologne Bonn Airport where there is now a night flight ban. And protests in Munich against plans for a new 3rd runway. There will also be a 6 hour night flight ban at Berlin’s new Brandenburg International Airport when it opens in June. Airlines like Lufthansa are complaining, and claiming they cannot run an efficient and profitable freight operation without night flights being permitted. The German Aviation Assoc claims there are no such bans at Amsterdam, Paris, London or Dubai. But the German opposition has been very effecive and got results.      Click here to view full story…