May 21, 2012
Credit: Photo: ARINC
Berlin Brandenburg International Airport (BBI) now is expected to open on March 17 next year, after the airport authority installs and tests new fire safety equipment.
The airport authority, Berlin Flughaefen, says it will be able to install and complete testing of the new, fully automated fire protection and control system only by December. Moving airline operations to the new facility in mid-winter is “inadvisable,” the airport authority says.
Due to the delay, the board terminated the contract of Manfred Koertgen, BBI managing director for operations, who had overseen the construction project since 2008. The board also is replacing the project management and site supervision company, although a new company has not been named.
The airport originally was expected to open June 3, but earlier this month said it would not be able to hold to that date, throwing into disarray both Air Berlin’s and Lufthansa’s plans for operations at the airport, and causing both carriers to seek financial recompensation for the delay.
However, this year’s ILA Berlin air show will not be affected by the delayed opening of the city’s new international airport, show organizers say, stressing that the show will be staged as planned on Sept. 11-16.
ILA is moving to a new exhibition ground on the premises of Berlin’s new airport. It will use one of the parallel runways in the south of the new facility, which is already completed. The northern runway will be open for scheduled traffic for Berlin Schoenefeld, the directly adjacent existing airport.
Separately, Germany’s federal slot coordinator scheduled a conference for this week that is dedicated to constraints at Berlin’s two operational airports. Many airlines, including home carrier Air Berlin and Lufthansa, have wanted to expand their Berlin networks, but Berlin Brandenburg Airport CEO Rainer Schwarz concedes that not all of the planned movements are possible at Berlin Tegel because there is not enough capacity.
Tegel has two runways, but they are too close together for independent operations. The new airport also will have two, but they are far enough apart to allow simultaneous takeoffs or landings.
Schwarz says some airlines may have to apply for curfew waivers to be able to complete schedules.