Two weeks ago, Germany got a new big and important airport. The Berlin Brandenburg airport “Willy Brandt”, short BER, in the south of Berlin was opened on the 31st of October, nine years after the initial opening date. It is Germany’s third largest airport and comprises three terminals in total, one of which is the former airport Schönefeld. The second terminal will not be used for the time being due to reduced passenger numbers resulting from the current pandemic. All three terminals have a total capacity of 46 million passengers. With 150 sales units on 20.000 m², it is the perfect spot to do some shopping at the beginning or the end of an exciting stay in Germany’s capital.
On the opening day, two airplanes from EasyJet and Lufthansa were the first to bring invited passengers into Berlin. On Sunday, the 1st of November, regular flight operations started. Significantly less people than planned celebrated the opening of the airport because of the current pandemic. Before the festivities, 9.900 extras were testing all areas of the airport from April until October, to make sure that nothing would stand in the way of the opening again.
The long and expensive history of Berlin’s airport
After the first cut of the spade, on the 5th of September 2006, the architects and owners of the airport came across various difficulties and had to postpone the opening six times. As the whole process took several years, some standards had changed and the required structural alterations extended the opening process even further. The construction of the BER airport was marked by planning errors as well as construction defects. The escalators ordered were too short, so they had to be replaced. The ventilators were too heavy and the ceiling threatened to collapse. These are just a couple of setbacks, the planners have come across next to the growing dissatisfaction and mockery of the public. Even after the opening, the mishaps still continue. Two weeks after introducing the airport to the public, leakages were discovered as it rained into the building.
All the alterations, the postponements and other difficulties were very costly. Interesting to know, that initially two billion euros were planned and approved. In the end, the project cost about seven billion euros, which is more than three times as much.
What does this mean for travellers coming to Berlin?
The former airport Tegel closed down on the 8th of November, which means that all flights to and from Berlin will now be handled from the BER airport. Terminal five is only used by the Irish airline Ryanair. All other airlines will land at terminal one, while the second terminal is not in operation. The modern airport and its improved infrastructure make the experience of flying to Berlin much more comfortable, compared to flying to the former airport Tegel. From the airport, very good connections with busses and trains, both regional and national high-speed trains, to the Berlin city centre and other German cities are available. Several times an hour, an express train takes passengers to and from the main train station of Berlin, within approximately 30 minutes. Taxis as well as car parks are available.
The turbulent history of the BER airport, which became an out of control state project due to bad planning and exploding costs, has finally come to an end, making flying to Berlin a lot easier as well as more comfortable.