Berlin’s new airport was supposed to be a crown jewel in the city’s efforts to rebuild and transform from the front line of the cold war to a bustling, modern capital. That was still the plan a couple years ago when the field was originally scheduled to open. Today, the latest target date—October 2013—is being acknowledged as an unattainable dream and there is no new target date being set. They cannot miss again if there is no target, or that appears to be the thinking anyway.
The failure to open the airport is being blamed officially on concerns about the fire suppression system, though there are many other issues with the terminal. They range from escalators being too short to the wrong trees being planted and, taken as a whole, they add up to an embarrassment for the city and Germany as a whole. Not only is the airport not completed, but it isn’t clear that they know what they need to change to get it there. And in the meantime, reports have surfaced showing growing ineffectiveness.
Some have suggested that the most prudent course of action is to abandon the new airport, that actually completing the project would just be throwing good money after bad. Thanks to recent growth by Germany’s second largest carrier, Air Berlin, it is already expected that the new airport will be at capacity before any passengers walk through its halls. The terminal was designed to handle 27 million passengers annually; the two existing airports it will replace already have surpassed 25 million. Both Lufthansa and Air Berlin had previously announced major increases to their operations as part of the new terminal’s opening which should push the passenger count past the target number.
The airport’s new CEO is committed to getting the facility opened and operational. It just is not clear when that will happen, how, or at what cost.
Photo credits: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons