While 2020 was the year that Berlin’s beleaguered new airport finally opened, it seems as though the year wasn’t great from a financial point of view. Last week the city’s airport authority revealed that it had experienced a loss of €1.058 billion ($1.276 billion) for the 2020 financial year.
2020 was a year of change for Berlin’s aviation scene. The city’s aging Tegel Airport was closed down after decades of operation. Meanwhile, the soviet era Schönefeld Airport was renamed Berlin Brandenburg Airport before its brand new terminal opened days later. This all occurred at the same time as the ongoing global pandemic that shook the aviation industry to its core.
Revenue down, costs up
Across the industry, the revenue of airlines and airports is hurting. Their primary income is from traveling passengers. As Berlin discovered, the global pandemic led to nationwide lockdowns and international travel bans. This led to a sharp fall in passenger numbers across the world.
The drop in passenger number means that the Berlin Airport Authority, FBB, saw its revenues fall by €239 million ($397 million) last year. The airport authority also has to deal with unscheduled write-downs related to the opening of the new terminal structure. These clocked in at around €767 million ($925 million).
The airport authority expects ‘meager’ revenues for years to come, even after it has seen the recovery of air travel. As such, FBB intends to rely on financial assistance for the medium term. All in all, this added up to an overall loss of €1.058 billion ($1.276 billion) for the 2020 financial year.
One terminal opens as another closed
The big news of 2020 as far as Berlin’s Airport Authority is concerned was opening the new airport complex, consisting of Terminal 1 and a new southern runway at the former Schönefeld Airport. At the same time, the airport was renamed to Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER).
The airport authority already managed to cut costs by closing one of the two airports operating. All flights from Tegel Airport were shifted across to BER’s new terminal. However, this wasn’t enough of a saving for the operators.
They also closed the soviet era Terminal 5 at BER, acting as the low-cost terminal. The few carriers, such as Ryanair and SunExpress, that were using the terminal have been relocated to Terminal 1. The airport shifted to operating only one runway, just weeks after the second opened. The temporary runway closure and closure of Terminal 5 are expected to save around €90 million ($108 million) this year.
Commenting on the year, Engelbert Lütke Daldrup, Chief Executive Officer of Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH said,
“2020 was a year with two faces: the successful opening of the BER and the financially difficult situation owed to the COVID-19 pandemic. The decades-long stable development of the capital region’s traffic was brought to an abrupt halt by the corona pandemic.”
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