Could The COVID-19 Pandemic Delay Berlin Brandenburg’s Opening?

After years of planning, Berlin-based airport operator Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg (FBB) is on course to open the new Brandenburg hub on October 31st. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic absolutely rocking the aviation industry, the group does not want move the deadline. However, with airlines largely inactive at the moment, could there be an incentive to delay the launch?

Lufthansa, Grounded Aircraft, Berlin Brandenburg Airport
Grounded Lufthansa aircraft at Brandenburg. Photo: Getty Images

Numbers down

Flight Global reports that FBB seeks to strictly adhere to the opening date. Nonetheless, the airport operator does understand that there are testing aspects to consider. Moreover, the outbreak is likely to disrupt trial runs.

At Berlin’s Tegel and Schönefeld airports, passenger numbers are down by an astounding 75 percent due to coronavirus fears and governmental travel restrictions. As the situation continues to develop, this number is likely to fall further. Nonetheless, the firm states that it will be possible to cope with reduced or postponed individual trials.

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FBB chief executive Engelbert Daldrup states that his firm’s income situation has deteriorated sharply in the last three weeks. He says that massive cost savings and operating expense reductions need to be made. Therefore, FBB is heavily scrutinizing all investments, expenses, and appointments. Additionally, reductions in working hours will need to be made.

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Brandenburg Airport
Despite global aviation concerns, FBB says it will be on target to open Brandenburg this October. Photo: FBB

Challenging times

FBB supervisory board chair Rainer Bretschneider also commented on the issues that his company faces ahead.

“We must face the additional challenges of the corona crisis, which will place even greater demands on us in terms of human resources and finances than ever before,” said Bretschneider, as per the report.

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Nonetheless, FBB does have an agreed business plan to take it to greater heights following Brandenburg’s inauguration. It is budgeting a total of €792 million ($841 million) in funding between 2021 and 2024. 50 percent of this figure will be funded by the business’ shareholders. The remaining about is to be sourced by financial markets.

Brandenburg Terminal
With less footfall, trials will be hard to conduct. Photo: FBB

A matter of time

The aviation industry faces a tough period this summer and German airlines are at the forefront of the struggle with the lockdowns in an around Europe. The long-term impact of the outbreak still isn’t certain, with many carriers in dire need of government support in order to survive the rut.

Large numbers of airline and airport staff around the world have been laid off this month following cuts to schedules and economic uncertainty. Even if the restrictions are lifted sooner rather than later, it could take a while before carriers return to their normal frequencies.

Altogether, with the industry practically at a standstill at the moment, there isn’t much of an urgency to get the new Brandenburg airport open. Currently, there are greater priorities for airlines and passengers who at least want to get off the ground in the first place.

Simple Flying reached out to FBB for more information on the new airport timeline but did not hear back before publication. We will update the article with any further announcements.

Do you think the new Brandenburg hub will remain on schedule? Let us know what you think of the prospect in the comment section.

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Patrick

Personally were I Lufthansa I’d be using the lull as the opportunity to switch. If you botch things right now there are not a lot of people to complain, and you may be able to bury any bad news in the virus coverage. The flip side is if you do it too soon people will pillory you for trying to open an airport in a pandemic.