LONDON – Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER), after much deliberation, is preparing to open its doors in October. Opening on Halloween, the airport has given information regarding its opening.

The celebrations will last around two weeks, aligned with the switch-over of traffic from Berlin Tegel (TXL).

Photo: CNN.

Operational Setup


Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg (FBB), the airport operator went into some details via a statement. “The highlight will be on 31 October”.

“On this day, Terminal 1 will begin operations. One aircraft each from EasyJet and Lufthansa will land simultaneously [on parallel runways]. On 8 November the airport in Tegel will receive an appropriate send-off.” 

Photo: BBC

Relevance of Other Berlin Airports


As mentioned by FBB, it most definitely appears to be the case that TXL will become less prevalent because of this opening. As for Berlin-Schonefeld (SXF), there are some other changes that will take place.

After unification of Germany following the collapse of the Soviet Union, passengers travelled through TXL with SXF being used for connections to Eastern Europe, charter flights and general aviation pilot training.

TXL at one point looked certain to close back in 2017, but due to a referendum in the area, Berliners voted to keep it open. BER will carry the IATA code, with a newly renovated terminal at SXF being named “BER Terminal 5” by October.

Photo: DW.com

A Troubled Program


Work on BER began in 1996 when the Berlin and Brandenburg governments picked the site on the south-eastern area of the city. Financial issues, including failed privatization proceedings, resulted in further delays to the overall program.

There were other obstacles between 1996 to 2012, including measures to soundproofing housing nearby resulted in the sky-rocketing of development costs.

June 2012 came along and inspection failures were announced, meaning that the airport couldn’t reopen. Fast forward to eight years later, and the ongoing issues surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has threatened to delay opening again.

Photo: FBB

Success Ahead?


Berlin Brandenburg Airport remains confident in the Halloween opening date, with preparations being close to completion. Even with the restrictions around COVID, the airport operator stated that public testing of the facility is currently in full gear.

Chief Executive of the airport Engelbert Lutke Daldrup mentioned that whilst opening is quite likely, development ahead could be more of a challenge. “Unfortunately we can’t reliably prognosticate the development of traffic in the coming years”.

He also mentioned, according to FlightGlobal, that the airport will require subsidies for years to come until this pandemic has come to an end and recovery occurs. Daldrup is right to say this, especially with TXL having to close for two months earlier this year due to the pandemic.

Photo: Günter Wicker 

Overall


Looking ahead, Berlin Brandenburg Airport looks pretty set up to open. This could be the fact of COVID encouraging more of a softer opening than FBB would have liked.

With initial passenger number projections of 34 million annually for BER, this number would no doubt have to decrease due to COVID.

With the industry trying to get a grip on this pandemic on the safety point of view and state intervention on quarantining, it could be a matter of time before this airport gets to the potential it so seeks to reach.


Featured Image: The construction site of the new Willy Brandt Berlin Brandenburg International Airport stands on June 27, 2012 near Berlin, Germany. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images