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Wed, Jan 09, 2013

New Berlin Airport Facing 'Indefinite' Delays

Airport Officials Say German Media Reports About Capacity 'Incomplete And Misleading'

Berlin's new Brandenburg airport, which was to have opened in June of last year, may not open until sometime in 2015, and when it does, some media reports indicate it will immediately be over its planned capacity.

The airport’s joint owners – Berlin, Brandenburg, and the German government – met the management team from Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH Monday to discuss progress on the construction of the new airport (BER). The airport operator’s Chief Operating Officer, Horst Amann, confirmed that the proposed opening date of October 27, 2013 is "no longer viable."

In a meeting held at the airport on December 18 last year, which was attended by the airport COO Horst Amann, Rainer Bomba and Ralf Christophers from the Supervisory Board as well as other representatives of the German government and the states of Berlin and Brandenburg as well as representatives of Siemens and Bosch, Mr Amann said “We evaluated the current situation and the next steps concerning the construction work at BER. The analysis highlighted that there was an increased risk that the airport might not be operational by 27 October 2013 as planned. However, we decided to continue the evaluation of the opening date, rather than cancelling the opening date at that stage. This evaluation was concluded by 4 January 2013.”

Last Friday, Amann told the airport’s joint owners about the outcome of the evaluation, which concluded that the airport would no longer be able to open on October 27, 2013 as planned. This further delay, he said is the result of problems with the fire protection system, in particular the fresh air supply in the case of a fire and the complexity of the system as a whole. Based on the previous timetable, construction work was due to be completed by May 2013 to allow a five-month period for trial operations before the official opening.

Amann said it is too early to discuss a new opening date. The airport operator’s Supervisory Board will discuss further action at BER and the consequences of postponing the airport’s opening at its next meeting in January.

Meanwhile, the online site Buying Business Travel reports that Berlin's Mayor Klaus Wowereit is under pressure to resign as the opening date continues to slide.

The German newspaper the BILD reported recently that a study showed the airport would be over capacity on the day that it opens, a claim that the airport refutes. In a news release, airport management said the newspaper report cites material from a study commissioned by the board of management that the paper called a "secret document."

According to the airport, at regular intervals the Airport Research Center examines capacities based on the flight registrations of the airlines. The study confirms the presence of sufficient ground handling resources for the 2013/14 winter flight schedule on the premise that active operational monitoring and management are provided. While the study does indicate that “On a peak day there are not enough desks available as outage and standby reserves,”  airport management says key findings, according to which the number of check-in desks is sufficient for the traffic load of the 2013 winter season, are deliberately omitted from the BILD report. The capacity of the baggage claim carousels is sufficient with the appropriate planning. Additional baggage claim carousels can be implemented directly after the opening, if needed. Airport management called the BILD report "deliberately incomplete and misleading."

FMI: http://preview.berlin-airport.de/en/travellers/

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