Is Berlin’s New Airport Finally Going To Open?

The opening date for Berlin Brandenburg Airport has finally been announced. Should everything go to plan, the new airport will open on 31 October 2020. It will likely be followed by the closure of Berlin Tegel Airport around a week later.

Berlin Brandenburg Airport
The opening of Berlin Brandenburg Airport has been delayed by almost nine years. Photo: Jon Worth via Flickr

The Berlin Brandenburg Airport saga has drawn out for 13 years. Now, after a nine-year delay, it looks like Berlin will finally get the new airport it has waited so long for.

The opening date was announced by the CEO of Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH, Engelbert Lütke Daldrup, on Friday. Understandably, many people are still doubtful that this target date will be met.

Delays to the project

Anyone who has been keeping an eye on the development of Berlin Brandenburg Airport is probably aware of the unending list of delays and issues which have plagued the project since the start.

Originally scheduled to open in October 2011, Berlin Brandenburg Airport will now open a staggering nine years later than planned. This lengthy delay has been the result of a number of different issues, errors and scandals along the way.

Even before construction began way back in 2006, the planning process for Berlin Brandenburg Airport had been ongoing for almost 15 years.

The Initial completion deadline was missed because the construction planning company in charge of the project, PG BBI, went bankrupt. This resulted in an initial postponement until 3 June 2012.

Berlin Brandenburg Airport under construction
The airport was originally supposed to open in 2011. Photo: Robert Aehnelt via Wikimedia Commons

But more serious problems soon emerged as severe shortcomings in the construction process, specifically related to the fire safety systems, were uncovered. Inspection of the site revealed that the fire safety systems which had been installed did not meet local safety requirements, and it would require significant additional work to get them up to scratch.

Eventually, it was revealed that a Berlin Brandenburg Airport manager had accepted a €150,000 bribe from the construction firm responsible for fitting the fire safety systems, Imtech. A number of other issues and failures in the construction process were also revealed over the years. But now it seems everything is set for Berlin’s long-awaited airport to open next year.

Berlin’s active airports

Berlin actually already has two airports, Berlin Schönefeld Airport, which was the airport of former East Berlin, and Berlin Tegel Airport, which was the main airport of former West Berlin. Berlin Tegel Airport is the larger of the two Berlin airports currently in operation. However, it is scheduled to close shortly after the opening of Berlin Brandenburg Airport next year.

In 2017, the public were asked whether they wanted Berlin Tegel Airport to remain open. Although the public voted in favour of keeping the airport in operation, authorities decided to stick to closure plans.

Berlin Tegel Airport
Berlin Tegel Airport will close down after Berlin Brandenburg Airport opens. Photo: Hans Knips via Wikimedia Commons

The site will likely be developed into some form of business and educational hub once services have been successfully transferred to Berlin Brandenburg Airport. The closure of Berlin Tegel Airport will open up a huge amount of land for construction and development, which is an exciting prospect for the Western side of the city.

Simple Flying has requested comment from Berlin Tegel Airport regarding the timeline for its closure, but has not yet received a response.