January 07, 2013
Berlin‘s airport operator has called off the planned Oct. 27 opening of the city’s new international airport, citing problems with the fire protection system.
According to Berlin Airports, the problems are so complex that the October opening is no longer tenable. Technical Director Horst Amann, who joined the operator a few months ago, said it was too early to determine a new opening date.
This is the fourth delay for Berlin Brandenburg Airport, and it now seems likely the transition from the old facilities at Tegel and Schonefeld airports in Berlin will not occur until late 2014, more than two years later than planned.
The fire protection system often has been cited as the main cause for the delay at Brandenburg, but there are deeper issues. The airport company itself took over planning late in the construction phase after firing companies previously in charge, and there is little oversight in the supervisory board, which is dominated by politicians from Berlin, Brandenburg and the federal government.
Berlin’s mayor Klaus Wowereit on Monday said he will step down as chairman of the supervisory board, and airport CEO Rainer Schwarz is expected to be ousted as soon as next week at the board’s next meeting.
The delay in opening Brandenburg particularly affects Air Berlin, which had planned to employ a hub and spoke system at the airport. The airline says it is “disappointed,” and that the delay causes continuous service issues for passengers.