1 Year In: Berlin Brandenburg Airport Urgently Needs Cash

Berlin Brandenburg Airport is in desperate need of a cash injection to avoid insolvency, according to its CEO, Aletta von Massenbach. The executive made the comments to the German Tagesspiegel newspaper on Friday alongside the release of the airport’s first-year passenger figures.

Berlin Brandenburg Airport, One Year, Cash Injection
Berlin’s new airport has now been open for a year. Photo: Günter Wicker/Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg

Today marks a year since the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport waved off its first flight, an easyJet flight to London Gatwick Airport. A year in, and things aren’t looking bright for the airport, which launched at the start of Germany’s worst COVID-19 wave so far. Despite conveying eight million passengers in its first year, the airport is still yet to experience a ‘normal day’.

Cash needed to avoid insolvency

According to Berlin Brandenburg Airport’s CEO, Aletta von Massenbach, the airport needs an injection of cash now to avoid insolvency in comments made to German newspaper Tagesspiegel. Last month Frankfurt Hahn Airport became insolvent. von Massenbach revealed that the airport has enough money to continue operating until the first quarter of 2022, though it must make a large debt payment in February.

The issue seems to stem from the lack of revenue being generated by the COVID-19 pandemic. von Massenbach told the newspaper,

“That we still need so much money for BER is super bitter…We have the situation where Brandenburg and Berlin decided to mainly finance the new airport with credits. This model doesn’t work anymore as revenue is missing because of the pandemic.”

Berlin Brandenburg Airport, One Year, Cash Injection
The airport’s new CEO, Aletta von Massenbach, suggested the airport needs an urgent cash injection. Photo: Günter Wicker/ Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg

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Passengers still not coming

Berlin Brandenburg Airport still has a surplus of capacity given the pandemic. The Soviet-era low-cost Terminal 5 remains closed until further notice to save cash, and a year into the pandemic, the airport still hasn’t opened its new Terminal 2. However, plans are being made for this to come into existence for the Easter 2022 rush.

In the first year of operation, Berlin Brandenburg handled just eight million passengers. To show how suppressed this is, in the single month of July 2019, Berlin’s Tegel and Schönefeld airports handled 3.36 million passengers.

Recently passengers have picked up to around 1.4 million a month, but at the height of the second wave, just 146,945 passengers used the new airport during February. For comparison, Tegel and Schönefeld handled just 27,593 passengers between them during April 2020.

Berlin Brandenburg Airport, One Year, Cash Injection
While starting to recover, passenger numbers still sit a long way off pre-pandemic figures. Photo: Zershchikova/Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg

A brighter future?

While nowhere near what the airport had in mind when it was supposed to open over a decade ago, it does seem as though things are starting to improve for the airport. As mentioned, in the past months, the number of passengers has risen to around 1.4 million. The airline also has its sights set on more longer-haul routes, following the arrival of Scoot’s fifth freedom flight from Athens earlier this summer.

United Airlines is set to launch direct flights to the nation’s capital city from New York and Washington in the coming year. In the past, we’ve also covered how Emirates is unable to serve Berlin. However, there does seem to be demand for such a route, with Latvia’s SmartLynx operating Berlin to Dubai flights during the winter.

What do you make of BER’s first year? Have you visited the airport? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!