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World Berlin's ill-fated new airport finally ready for take-off

07:41  28 october  2020
07:41  28 october  2020 Source:   msn.com

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Berlin -Brandenburg Willy Brandt Airport , €4bn over budget and nine years late, now has virus to An aerial view of Berlin ’ s new airport . Photograph: Sören Stache/AP. “ I love flying, but obviously Throughout the airport preparations are being made for the opening day. Plastic is being taken off

Better late than never. Berlin Brandenburg Airport is finally set to open 3,289 days after originally planned on October 31. No matter how long it takes But if Lütke Daldrup is to be believed, no matter how many people come to Berlin , they will soon be landing and taking off from Berlin Brandenburg

Nine years late and eye-wateringly over budget, the Berlin region's new international airport will finally open on Saturday -- in the middle of a global pandemic that has crippled air travel.

a group of people standing next to a body of water: Berlin's new airport has been a years-long construction site on the edge of the German capital © STEFANIE LOOS Berlin's new airport has been a years-long construction site on the edge of the German capital

"We are ready for take-off!" insists the management team at the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER), set to replace the German capital's ageing Tegel and Schoenefeld airports.

But the mood is one of relief rather than celebration.

Ever since construction began on BER in 2006, the project has been dogged by one failure after another, becoming a financial black hole and a national laughing stock -- not exactly an example of German efficiency.

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Made in Germany. Is Berlin ' s BER Airport finally taking off ? After a nine-year delay, a ballooning budget and a series of ever-worsening technical blunders, the new Berlin -Brandenburg Airport is set to finally open at the end of next month.

BERLIN —The coronavirus pandemic is wreaking havoc on international travel, but Berlin Brandenburg Airport , Germany’ s most notorious white elephant, is finally set to open—nine years behind schedule and three times over budget. Udo Haase, former mayor of Schönefeld

a large orange truck in a parking lot: Airport jobs like ground crew are under threat because of the pandemic © John MACDOUGALL Airport jobs like ground crew are under threat because of the pandemic

The airport, located in the south-east of the capital, was originally due to open in 2011.

Now it is opening its doors in the middle of the worst crisis the aviation industry has ever seen, as Covid-19 restrictions continue to suffocate air travel.

And as if that were not enough, there's also the climate crisis: pressure group Extinction Rebellion is planning acts of "civil disobedience" on the opening day to protest against the impact of aviation on global warming.

Elon Musk standing in a parking lot: Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk's planned Tesla factory is the next vast construction site outside Berlin © Odd ANDERSEN Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk's planned Tesla factory is the next vast construction site outside Berlin

- 'Not have a party' -

Against that backdrop, "We will simply open, we will not have a party," according to Engelbert Luetke Daldrup, president of the airport's management company.

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Berlin ’ s new Brandenburg Airport is finally due to open in one month. Over the last decade, Berlin ’ s new Brandenburg airport has made headlines many times. Terminal 2 ready but not opening. Just this week, Berlin ’ s airport authorities revealed that BER’s Terminal 2 had achieved its

Berlin ’ s much-delayed new airport has a new opening date: October 31, 2020. That is almost nine years later than the date envisioned when construction began in 2006. The operator of the German capital’s airports announced the date on Friday.

Lufthansa and EasyJet will be the first two airlines to touch down on the tarmac of what will be Germany's third-largest airport, after Frankfurt and Munich.

A few days before the opening, around 200 staff were busy disinfecting the 360,000-square-metre Terminal 1.

Some 100 alcoholic hand gel dispensers have been installed and robot vacuum cleaners hum over the floors.

The "Magic Carpet", a huge, bright red artwork by American artist Pae White suspended from the ceiling, brings a touch of colour to the check-in hall.

The airport has been designed to welcome 27 million passengers a year, but in November it will see only 20 percent of usual air traffic thanks to the pandemic.

a sign on the side of a building: Staff were still putting the finishing touches to the Berlin airport a few days before opening © STEFANIE LOOS Staff were still putting the finishing touches to the Berlin airport a few days before opening

Terminal 2 won't open until spring 2021.

About 15 shops and restaurants out of just over 100 will remain shut, while the rest will be forced to keep "limited opening hours" because of low traffic through the airport, a spokesman told AFP.

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The Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) celebrated the topping out of Terminal 2, inching the long-unfinished airport closer to completion. Not everyone has to wait in those pesky lines or take off their shoes and belt for security clearance. Here German Chancellor Angela Merkel leaves her 143

Berlin ' s new Willy Brandt airport , named after the chancellor who governed West Germany from 1969 to 1974, is supposed to be the country's third major airport , after Frankfurt and Munich. It is intended to handle about 27 million flyers every year and could eventually expand to accommodate 45 million

None of this good news for BER, initially projected to cost 1.7 billion euros ($2 billion) but already past the 6.5-billion-euro mark ($7.6 billion).

The airport has been granted 300 million euros ($353 billion) in state aid to help safeguard the jobs of the 20,000 people who will eventually work there until the end of 2020.

- Job losses -

The health crisis is already having an impact on employment at the hub: at the end of July, Berlin's airports announced the loss of 400 jobs out of a total of 2,100.

EasyJet has said it will cut 418 jobs in the German capital, and Europe's leading airline Lufthansa, Germany's flagship carrier, is to shed 30,000 jobs worldwide.

"We fear even greater job losses in the future," a spokesman for the Verdi union told AFP.

Luetke Daldrup hopes the situation will improve "from the spring onwards". But the International Air Transport Association (IATA) does not expect global air traffic to reach pre-crisis levels until 2024.

In the state of Brandenburg, which surrounds Berlin, local leaders remain optimistic about the prospects for development.

"No hotel has so far postponed its investment plans because of the pandemic," insists Olaf Luecke, president of the local branch of Germany's hotel and catering trade union (DEHOGA).

Construction work began in September on two 14,000-square-metre (150,000-square-foot) hotel complexes, due to open in 2022.

And in anticipation of the opening of BER, US electric-car giant Tesla has chosen Brandenburg as the location of its first European factory, which is set to employ 40,000 people.

"Having new, modern infrastructure will be beneficial in any case, despite the pandemic," according to Carsten Broenstrup of the state employers' association.

But "if there is not a vaccine soon, it will be a very big problem," he admits.

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