Berlin Brandenburg Airport boondoggle

Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) has been under construction since 2006 and continues to be a source of nonstop embarrassment for Germany. BER, 11 miles south of the center of the city, was supposed to replace both, Tegel and Schoenefeld airports. The two older airports have become outdated and far too small to adequately serve the projected annual passenger total of around 27 million. Berlin Brandenburg’s opening was initially scheduled for 2010, but quickly pushed back to 2011. Ten days prior to the second planned opening, BER’s inauguration was rescheduled again, this time for 2012. Airport manager, Rainer Schwarz, was fired and replaced by Hartmut Mehdorn.

Corruption, mismanagement and safety issues have pushed back the opening date of Berlin Brandenburg International Airport again and again and resulted in sizable cost overruns. The latest inauguration estimates suggest a date somewhere between the first half of 2017 and the last half of 2018. In the meantime, construction permits for BER’s south wing will expire in August 2015 and permits for the main terminal have an expiration date in October. Extensions are less than desirable because they will add additional environmental protection requirements and barrier-free installations.

Muehlenfeld becomes new CEO

In the latest development, Hartmut Mehdorn, BER’s current airport manager, will step down in June of 2015. Karsten Muehlenfeld, a former executive at Rolls Royce in Germany, will take over the reins. Muehlenfeld who had just left Rolls Royce and accepted a position with the train manufacturer Bombardier in February, agreed to take over as the new airport manager of BER instead of working for Bombardier.

Berlin Brandenburg Airport declared too small

Another bombshell in the ongoing BER boondoggle is that the airport that hasn’t even opened yet has already been called “too small” to handle the expected air traffic. Planners say that they underestimated the number of passengers the airport would serve. In response, Mehdorn proposed last December to add another terminal. If approved, the additional terminal would serve an additional 8 to 10 million passengers and be located adjacent to the northern wing of the main terminal. It will now be up to Muehlenfeld to decide whether or not this possibility should be pursued. One of the main issues with a potential terminal addition is that the 6 million residents living in the airport area have previously rejected the idea.

Berlin Brandenburg Additional Costs

Estimated current total costs for BER amount to €5.4 billion. The planned additions would add €2.19 billion to that figure. But there is also talk of a third runway at the tune of an additional €1 billion and other new projects such as expanded baggage system and another freight facility. The total additional costs could amount to €3.2 billion.



For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.





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