Berlin Brandenburg Airport Delay Impacts Airlines

Flughafen Berlin-Brandenburg GmbH announced last week that the new Berlin Brandenburg (BER) airport will not open on June 3 as scheduled, claiming technical problems in fire protection engineering made the postponement "indispensable."

Burkhard Kieker
, CEO of visitBerlin, said that the decision was made as a safety measure. “A launch of BER on a safe and comfortable basis is better than a possibly bumpy start, which impairs the arrival and departure of our guests,” he said in a statement.

But the airlines that had planned to use the new airport in less than a month are less than pleased.

airberlin has expressed "great disappointment" at the delay, noting in a statement that the company had planned all its infrastructural measures and flight schedules for June 3. Hartmut Mehdorn, CEO airberlin, said that the change presents a huge challenge for the airline: “It presents immense logistical problems for all involved and will also cause additional costs which have yet to be calculated.”

The new airberlin hub at the airport is arranged in such a way that airberlin aircraft fly in from different locations in a system of six traffic waves each day, so that passengers can change planes and continue their flights in a very short time. This system was tailored to the conditions at BER, and, according to the airline, cannot be implemented at Tegel Airport.

However, Mehdorn did note that passenger safety was the first priority.

Lufthansa, meanwhile, is continuing the planned expansion of its Berlin flight plan as scheduled, without cutbacks. "In the time between June 3, until the new opening date of BER, Lufthansa's new 15 Airbus-Jet Berlin fleet will be stationed in Tegel," spokeswoman Christina Semmel said. "The expansion of the Berlin flight plan remains, with non-stop connections to 39 destination in Europe and the Near East…There will be no flight cancelations."

The planned takeoff and landing times will be largely unaffected, although some could be affected by approximately 15 minutes. The details, Semmel said, are currently being discussed in a "constructive dialog" with the Airport Corporation. Affected passengers will be rebooked automatically from/to Tegel airport, and notified per eMail, SMS or telephone.
Berlin can still be reached through the existing airports Schönefeld and Tegel; all flights to and from Berlin can be carried out as scheduled. It is worth noting that at the beginning of the year, Berlin recorded a double-digit growth in room nights.