Will Berlin Brandenburg Airport ever open?

Berlin-Brandenburg AirportAn opening date for BER

Indeed? Hardly anyone wants to believe it. After many failures, bad luck and mishaps, BER is set to open in autumn next year. The airport boss will give the board of directors an exact date today. Supervisory board chairman Rainer Bretschneider was optimistic after the last meeting.

"My assessment, and that is also that of the supervisory board as a whole, is that we will keep the date of October 2020 for the opening. We believe we can do it."

The federal government is also cautiously optimistic. The technical acceptance is in progress, the timely start is not in jeopardy, according to the Federal Ministry of Transport.

Airport spokesman Hannes Stefan Hönemann puts it this way: "We have come closer. In December 2017, it was decided at the Supervisory Board meeting that it is October 2020. Then we worked on it, it went very well, we are on schedule. And now the next logical step is to name a specific day for October 2020. And that will happen today. "

Plans have become obsolete

So in October next year, in just under a year, it should be ready. It then took an incredible 14 years. During this time, construction costs have tripled, rising from around two billion euros to six billion. And it has long been clear that the plans have become obsolete - in other words, the BER is too small when it opens. The old Schönefeld Airport will therefore remain in operation for the time being, while another terminal is being built. And not all hurdles have been overcome, not all deficiencies have been dealt with. The cable routes are causing problems. In addition, the technical systems of the underground airport train station and the above-ground terminal are not yet synchronized.

"We are now as good as through with the question of making a building out of the construction site. At the same time, we are going to turn the building into an airport."

The opening has already been postponed six times, a lot of top staff worn out, countless supervisory boards replaced. In retrospect, it was a big mistake to let the planners and architects out the door - they took their plans and the insider knowledge with them. Important companies went bankrupt and also delayed completion.

The three owners of the airport company are the federal government and the states of Berlin and Brandenburg. The positions on the supervisory board are occupied by political parties, there is always an election campaign somewhere, which makes decisions even more complicated.

BER - a laughing stock

In retrospect, insiders rate the role of ex-airport boss Hartmut Mehdorn as extremely critical. The manager was responsible for BER from 2013 to 2015.

"I have an order. I am supposed to put the airport into operation. And I'll do it. And if you think you don't have to change anything, there will be a crowd. It's clear."

Hartmut Mehdorn failed, as did his successor, the industrial manager Karsten Mühlenfeld. Engelbert Lütke-Daldrup has been running the airport company for two and a half years, former State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Transport.

"We are very confident about the opening in 2020. We are very precise in the planning that we agreed a year and a half ago. And so we are very confident about the start-up."

BER, which does not want to be finished, has become a laughing stock around the world - most will only believe that the capital's airport really works when the first plane actually takes off there. Maybe in October 2020.