While the opening of the new Waldorf Astoria Berlin is great news for the city, Berlin's tourism scene is still facing a significant challenge: In spite of major investment (and major delays), its long-awaited Brandenburg Airport is still not operational, and is not expected to open until the fall.
According to the Economist, the new airport originally got approval for handling 45 million passengers per year, but is now meant for only 27 million, which is roughly as many as the existing airports handle already. In fact, it can cope adequately with only 17 million, says Dieter Faulenbach da Costa, an airport consultant who has appraised the project for an opposition party in Brandenburg’s state parliament. The airport originally had a budget of $3.2 billion, but is now likely to cost twice as much. Air Berlin, the carrier most affected, has sued for damages. And four people have died during construction.
The specific reason for the most recent delay, which happened last June, had to do with the fire-safety systems, which are complex and still not ready. But Faulenbach da Costa lists many other problems: There are too few check-ins and too few parking positions for aircraft. Some 100,000 residents will suffer from noise, whereas it could have been 30,000 if the location had been slightly different.
According to TW Germany, the supervisory board of the new Capital Airport Berlin Brandenburg International (BBI) earmarked another $329 million for the project’s construction budget. Even so, the airport operating company does not intend to overstep the overall budget of $1.58 billion, planning to achieve this through internal reallocations. In total the project is budgeted at $5.67 billion.
Meanwhile, Air Berlin has announced that it would expand its existing codeshare agreement with its oneworld partner American Airlines by a total of 43 new connecting flights within the U.S., including non-stop flights three times a week from Chicago to Berlin.