Today, Terminal 5 at Berlin Brandenburg Airport, formerly known as Schönefeld Airport, will handle its final flight for the foreseeable future. Due to the low traffic levels prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the city is consolidating traffic at its brand new Terminal 1 facility.
Around the world, airports are facing the grim reality of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fewer passengers are flying, meaning fewer flights are operating. This creates a double hit for airports. Firstly they are carrying fewer passengers through the terminals, but without flights, they lack vital income. This has prompted many major airports such as London Heathrow and Frankfurt to close terminals and even runways until the situation improves. Now, Berlin has taken such action.
Final flight at Terminal 5
Since it opened, Berlin Bradenburg Terminal 1 has handled most flights at the city’s only airport. However, Terminal 5 remained open for low-cost carriers such as Wizz and Ryanair.
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With such low traffic figures, Berlin Brandenburg Airport has enough capacity at Terminal 1 to handle all flights arriving and departing from the airport. Doing the maths, it doesn’t make sense to pay to keep two facilities open when you only need one. This is the reason that Berlin is closing Terminal 5.
"Wir drücken auf die Pausentaste." Flughafenchef Engelbert Lütke Daldrup zur vorübergehenden Schließung des Terminal 5 des #BER. Er erinnerte auch an die Geschichte des alten Flughafens Schönefeld, ehemals Zentralflughafen der DDR. pic.twitter.com/E1OgYCpz4B
— BER Corporate News (@ber_corporate) February 22, 2021
According to the airport’s operators, Closing Terminal 5, previously known as Schönefeld, will save €25 million ($30 million) in a year. Initially, the facility will close for at least a year, but it could remain closed for longer, with the airport saying that it will remain closed until further notice.
Commenting on the situation earlier this month, Engelbert Lütke Daldrup, Chief Executive Officer of Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH, said,
“This step reduces costs and expenses for the year by about 25 million euros. Terminal 5 will still be promptly available to us if the need arises. The dormant operation is organised in such a way that Terminal 5 can be up and running again within a few weeks when it is needed again.”
Ryanair operates the last flight
The last flight to arrive at Terminal 5 today was a Ryanair Boeing 737-800 operated by subsidiary Malta Air. Having departed from Rome’s Ciampino Airport on time at 09:45, the aircraft touched down in Berlin at 13:13 this afternoon, some 23 minutes late. Having landed from the west, the aircraft faced a short taxi directly to the terminal.
This is not the first time Ryanair has been forced to change terminals in Germany due to COVID-19. In Frankfurt, the airline is sharing a portion of Terminal 1 with Lufthansa and many others as Terminal 2 remains closed. SunExpress became the first of the airlines to move out of Terminal 5 on February 1st.
From tomorrow, all aircraft flying to and from Berlin city will use Terminal 1 at Berlin Brandenburg Airport. When the new terminal opened, it also led to the permanent closure of the closer Tegel Airport.
What do you make of the closure of Terminal 5? Will it ever reopen? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!