Who Opens a New Airport During a Pandemic? This City

Berlin's Brandenburg Airport is almost a decade late and $4.6B over budget, but it's finally here
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2020 5:00 PM CDT
'Cursed' Airport Opens, 8 Years Late
People walk through Terminal 1 of the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport near Berlin in Schoenefeld, Germany, on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Having a grand opening for an airport in the middle of a pandemic may seem odd, but for Germany's newest travel hub, it's been a long time coming—14 years, to be exact. That's how long it's taken to complete Berlin's Brandenburg Airport, which was supposed to be done in 2012 but is opening its doors for the first time on Saturday. The project was plagued over the years by a litany of "setbacks, complaints, and inefficiencies" that led to many calling the airport "cursed," per CNN, which details the problems that trailed construction from the start. The opening date was pushed first to 2014, then to 2016, and finally to 2020. Among the issues that have held things up, per Bloomberg: fire safety problems, escalators that weren't long enough, automatic doors without electricity, and the "Monster," a smoke-extraction system that didn't work as well as it should have.

All of the delays and infrastructure dilemmas ended up putting the project $4.6 billion over budget, for a grand total of around $7 billion. The airport, located in the Schoenefeld region southeast of Berlin, will fill the gap left by the soon-to-close Tegel Airport (which will shutter on Nov. 8), and the Schoenefeld Airport—once ranked the worst in the world—which closed last Sunday; parts of the infrastructure of the latter will be part of Brandenburg's Terminal 5. When Terminal 2 opens in the spring to join terminals 1 and 5, the airport, which will go by the code "BER," will be able to handle over 40 million passengers. Lufthansa and easyJet will be the two main carriers at the new facility. Although there'd been much fanfare planned for the 2012 opening, this weekend's launch will be low-key. "There will be no party," airport chief Engelbert Luetke Daldrup tells CNN. (Read more airport stories.)

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