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Aviation: New airport in Berlin has opened

Lufthansa and Easyjet were the first airlines whose planes landed at BER – but not quite as planned.

Opening of the new Berlin airport: planes landed one after the other, not in parallel. (Image: Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters)

This time for real: Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) opened on October 31. Two planes landed at the start: a Lufthansa plane that came from Munich and one from Easyjet, which had a shorter route – it took off from Berlin-Tegel airport. There was no celebration due to the current pandemic situation.

The airport is named after Willy Brandt, who was the Governing Mayor of Berlin and later Federal Chancellor. The third largest airport in Germany consists of three terminals: the previous one at Schönefeld Airport and two new passenger terminals. The total capacity should be 48 million passengers per year.

Terminal 2 is still closed

However, only one of the new terminals will be put into operation. The other one remains closed for the time being due to the low passenger volume as a result of the corona crisis. The government terminal on the BER site has been in operation since last week.

The airport was built for 14 years and the project cost around 6.5 billion euros. That's three times as much as planned. The reason was, among other things, plan changes. So 220,000 square meters were planned, in the end it was over 340,000 square meters. In addition, the elaborate construction of passenger boarding bridges for the Airbus A380 was subsequently decided. Irony of history: They are probably not being used because the airlines are scrapping their wide-body aircraft .

The airport was originally supposed to open on October 30, 2011. The opening was postponed six times, among other things because of thousands of deficiencies, such as fire protection. In 2012 the opening was imminent and then had to be postponed because the capacity of the smoke extraction system was insufficient for the enlarged area.

The scandals had already started before construction began: there were three possible locations to choose from. The decision had been stabbed before it was announced. Speculators then bought the building land cheaply and then sold it at high prices to the airport company.

The opening did not go as planned either: the two planes were supposed to touch down at the same time on both runways running parallel to each other. The plan was abandoned for security reasons. The machines touched down on the northern runway every four minutes.

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