New Berlin airport faces fresh delay: official
- Published: 7/01/2013 at 11:45 PM
- Online news:
The opening of Berlin's new main airport has been postponed again after several previous delays, an official said on Monday, in a fresh embarrassment for the city and its under-fire mayor.
Workers walking past a sign reading the name of the Berlin-Brandenburg International airport during a visit to the building site in Schoenefeld, near Berlin, on September 11, 2012. Berlin's new main airport, whose opening has already been delayed four times, has been hit with a fresh postponement, an official said Monday, in a fresh embarrassment for the city and its mayor.
Thomas Braune, a spokesman for the region of Brandenburg, where the new airport is situated, confirmed that the project's technical director believed the opening could not take place in October as planned.
The Berlin-Brandenburg Airport was originally slated to open its doors in June 2012 but has suffered multiple delays.
Sebastian Rudolph, a spokesman for the federal transport ministry, said the government had received a letter from airport authorities over the weekend.
Without going into details, the letter listed "certain problem areas, with the fire protection system being the biggest problem," Rudolph told a regular government news conference.
"The situation is serious," said Rudolph.
The latest delay has taken place because the fire system has been built in a different way from what was specified on its building permit, said mass circulation daily Bild.
"What a scandal. The capital is making a fool out of the whole country," Bild said, citing internal airport documents saying an opening was possible "in 2014 at the earliest" due to construction errors.
The calamity in one of Germany's largest construction projects has dented the popularity of the city's mayor, Klaus Wowereit, accused of incompetence and underestimating the problems linked to the building of the new airport.
Without citing its sources, Bild said that Wowereit had already offered to resign if the 2013 start date could not be met. "What conclusions will you draw now, Mr Wowereit?" asked the paper.
Facing calls to resign, Wowereit called a crisis meeting earlier on Monday to discuss the situation, reported the local daily Tagesspiegel.
He was due to make a statement at 1545 GMT.
A spokeswoman for German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the ministry was "surprised" by the new emergence of problems but that it was "too early to calculate" the financial implications.
The country's top two airlines, Lufthansa and Air Berlin, have also expressed outrage over the repeated delays to the project, on the site of the current Schoenefeld Airport, southeast of the city.
Berlin's airports are not the country's busiest, with Schoenefeld and Tegel combined welcoming around 24 million visitors a year -- less than half the 56 million passengers serviced at Frankfurt airport in western Germany.
But the new airport, to be named after former chancellor Willy Brandt, was intended to accommodate the sharp rise in air traffic to the region seen in the two decades since the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification.
About the author
- Writer: AFP
Position: News agency