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The Ongoing Saga of Berlin’s Still-Unfinished Airport

The Ongoing Saga of Berlin’s Still-Unfinished Airport
Jennifer Billock

A new airport was supposed to open in Berlin in 2012, but it still hasn’t opened. What’s the holdup?

A month before Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport (BER) was meant to open in 2012, the grand opening was abruptly canceled – without explanation or a timeline for the new opening. Now, the state-of-the-art facility continues to sit unused while air traffic funnels through Berlin’s two current airports, Schönefeld and Tegel. The problem is that neither of those airports is built for modern-day use; they were opened in the Cold War era.

Brandenburg airport was meant to be the new official hub in Berlin. Once it opened, the other two would be shut down along with a third that closed in 2008. So what happened? Well, it’s a mix of concerns. The initial reason for the canceled opening was an overly complex and faulty system to protect the airport from fires. And then the problems began to pile on: The ceiling was structurally compromised, the escalators were too short, and the wiring overheated. The airport then became overwhelmed by legal issues, claims of corruption, and the loss of important contractors. On top of that, it appeared that much of the airport wasn’t built up to code and needed to be completely redone.

The never-opened airport isn’t making any money sitting there; in fact, it’s cost about $7 billion at this point with no opening in sight.

“There was never a central management installed to oversee and properly monitor the project as a whole,” Andreas Spaeth, an author and aviation analyst in Germany, told CNN. “So this created an environment where no one knew what the real situation was anymore. It is still very difficult to properly and realistically assess the state of construction progress and remaining items, hence the reluctance of anyone stating any new opening date now.”

A German newspaper, though, reported that the opening may not happen until at least 2021.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (2)


  1. bhrubin

    December 7, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    Completely destroying the myth of German efficiency.

  2. Mordor2112

    December 11, 2017 at 10:42 am

    Stop imitating us, Germany!
    Signed, Brazil.

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