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Home / World / Nearly ten years later, Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport finally opened (during the pandemic)

Nearly ten years later, Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport finally opened (during the pandemic)

Berlin (CNN) — It was nearly ten years behind the original plan and exceeded the budget by 4 billion euros. A global epidemic paralyzed the aviation industry.

Happy Halloween, head to Berlin’s troubled Brandenburg Airport, which finally opens this Saturday.

The Schönefeld area in southeast Berlin covers an area of ​​1,470 hectares, a huge area, and aims to become the most advanced transportation hub that the German capital has been lacking, and will establish connections with more long-distance destinations.

However, having suffered so many frustrations, complaints and inefficiencies that many people call the project “cursed”
;, it is not an easy journey-nor is it a good thing.
The European Airport Industry Association European ACI warned on Tuesday that due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, nearly 200 airports across Europe are likely to collapse within a few months, with passenger flow down 73% year-on-year.

According to reports, Berlin-Brandenburg Willie Brandt Airport (BER) has received 300 million euros of state aid without the need to transport a passenger-and although there is no airport in the world that is not hot now, the new airport in Berlin Strangers without crisis.

Unified dream

The plan to establish a central international airport in Berlin can be traced back to the era of Berlin’s unification. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, German leaders began discussions about building a new airport, which they believed would help establish Berlin as a new world center.

At the time, the city had three airports-Tegel “Otto Lienthal” Airport, Schönefeld Airport and Tempelhof Airport-all of which played a role in Berlin’s turbulent post-war history Played an important role.

The Tempelhof, close to the centre of Berlin, has been closed and is now a major park. Tegel is a permanent stopgap measure. Its facilities are too crowded and obsolete, but it will continue to fight and will be closed on November 8.
Schönefeld Airport (Schönefeld Airport) was rated as “the worst in the world” by the online travel agency eDreams in 2017. The airport was closed on October 25, and most of its infrastructure has been incorporated as the new terminal 5 facility.

So why did the new airport (officially known as Berlin Brandenburg Airport Willie Bronte) take so long to build? How did such a bold vision for Berlin’s future end as a speech of national humiliation?

Complications from the beginning

The formal construction began in 2006. Efforts to privatize the project failed, and it was owned by the German federal government, the state of Brandenburg and the city of Berlin, and the airport board was responsible.

This effort includes a rough cost assessment of 2.83 billion euros ($3.1 billion at today’s exchange rate) and ambitious ambitions. This will be an impressive facility, hailed as the “most modern” facility in Europe.

However, a series of technical issues have delayed progress and at the same time caused the airport’s price tag to rise. The initial cost forecast was underestimated.

With the well-designed opening ceremony to be held in June 2012, all architectural, structural and technical issues reached their peak in 2011.

At the end of 2011, aviation inspectors began filing to the construction site to check the alarm system and safety functions. An incorrect fire protection system design first puzzled the experts, and it soon became clear that the main structural elements (such as escalator size, ceiling design and ticket counter) had huge problems.

The envisaged opening ceremony was an excellent display, and the appearance of German Chancellor Angela Merkel (Angela Merkel) was also cancelled, which was cancelled just a few weeks ago, putting German officials in an awkward position.

The opening date was postponed to 2014 and then 2016. The Brandenburg State Audit completed in 2016 concluded that the airport’s availability was less than 57%. In the end, the officials decided to stop providing the expected date and put the entire project on hold until the management and construction could be overhauled.

Finally, with spending exceeding the 7.3 billion euro mark, this date was postponed to 2020.

Berlin Brandenburg Airport: After nearly a decade of delays, the Willy Brandt Airport in Berlin Brandenburg opened on October 31.

Günter Wicker/Berlin Brandenburg Airport Co., Ltd.

‘Ready to take off’

“The most important thing for us is that we want to open the airport.” Airport owner Engelbert Luetke Daldrup told CNN. After years of arduous construction, testing and experimentation, we are ready to take off. “

Terminal 1 will welcome its first passengers on November 1. Its smooth glass curtain wall is equipped with modern furniture and polished check-in counters.

American artist Pae White’s installation “Magic Carpet” hangs from the ceiling of the boarding hall, adding a touch of color.

However, the overall impression is one of the functions. Walnut paneling feels like an attempt to increase heat, and belongs more to the 1990s, when the airport plan was just born. Since there is no greenery to soften the exterior, the building is dark and box-like.

Elevators and escalators feel very cramped, which shows that not all design failures have been successfully eliminated.

Daldrup defended the airport to avoid any accusations that it was obsolete.

He said: “We have a lot of time to implement the latest technology in this airport.” He said: “The airport has undergone very serious infrastructure reconstruction in many aspects, in terms of technology.

“We may be the safest airport in the world, because after the 2012 disaster, we went through rigorous testing.”

But thanks to Covid-19, it will take some time to wait for a large amount of traffic to challenge the system.

Run at reduced capacity

Brandenburg Airport can accommodate 40 million passengers in Terminal 1, Terminal 5 and the upcoming Terminal 2 (to be opened in the spring of 2021).

However, due to the pandemic, it is expected to receive only about 11,000 passengers on the first day of operations on November 1, and only 24,000 passengers a week later.

Daldrup told CNN: “Of course, the Covid era is a difficult time, but in a year or two, we will have a lot of passengers here.” People will love this new modern international airport. “

As early as May, Lufthansa, Germany’s second largest airline, received US$10 billion in national bailouts.

Together with the low-cost airline EasyJet, it will become the two largest participants in BER. On the opening day, the planes of the two airlines will land on two runways in parallel to mark this role.

Daldrup said: “We need help. All major airlines need help.” However, he said that the owners of the airport have supported financing for the next few years in order to provide necessary assistance in response to the crisis.

Signage and marketing are ready to open in 2012.

Adam Berry/Getty Images

He said: “Everyone knows that the German capital needs a good infrastructure to achieve international connections.” “We hope to have more flights to the United States, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and so many cities.”

He said that the global economy depends on this kind of connectivity, and he added: “The airport industry, airports, and airlines are the backbone of our economic recovery.”

Dahldrup claimed that the opening of the airport was a “symbol of hope.” Ambitious ambitions have always been part of the Brandenburg Airport story, so for a country known for its efficiency, this is the end of a very embarrassing chapter, maybe so.

As early as 2012 (the catastrophic year predicted by the Maya), the opening ceremony was welcomed with fanaticism and noise. However, by 2020, the year the disaster really hits the aviation industry, the celebrations will become very calm.

Daldrup confirmed: “There will be no parties.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that the airport was 10 years later than originally planned. This has been revised to “nearly ten years late”.

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