Bad news for BERlin: Airport Edition

Posted in: Berlin Planning

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The opening of Berlin's new airport has been delayed. Photo © Günter Wicker / Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg.
The opening of Berlin's new airport has been delayed. Photo © Günter Wicker / Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg.

While meeting an arriving friend at Berlin’s Tegel Airport last week, we both heaved an internal sigh over what would be our last trip to that airport. Tegel’s no more special than any other airport really (although its design *is* unique, if entirely impracticable in the current airport security climate), unless you count all the personal arrivals and departures that took place there.

While it may stop existing in the real world, like any place one might have spent a fair amount of emotionally-charged time, it will continue to haunt my dreamscapes until I die.

You see, Berlin‘s getting a new airport — the Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) (Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt) — which has been in construction on the other side of Schoenefeld (SXF) airport for years.

Introducing BER

Due to its history, Berlin had been served by three airports: Tegel, Tempelhof, and Schoenefeld. The Tempelhof Airport was closed by public vote in 2008; in the interim, its runways in all their flat, unshaded glory have become one of Berlin’s largest and most popular parks. Tegel and Schoenefeld were to cease operation upon the opening of the new airport on June 3rd of this year.

Berlin residents have long been told that a new airport was necessary in order to ensure demand for the volume of travel to and from the German capital, that this could not be met at the two smaller airports.

The states of Berlin and Brandenburg, the local transportation networks, and the Deutsche Bahn have been working together to ensure that travelers have easy and inexpensive access to the new airport: an express train ticket, departing below the airport terminal and arriving at the central stations of Berlin within 15 minutes, is no more expensive than any other Berlin ABC ticket (at present, €3).

Delayed takeoff

The airport was originally scheduled to open last fall, but due to construction delays, the opening was postponed until June 2012.  And now, three weeks before that intended opening, with tickets long printed with departures from BER, it has been announced that the opening will again be delayed.

At this time, it is still unclear when the construction will be finished and the new airport christened; however, the two airlines most affected by the delay, Lufthansa and airberlin, are pushing for a date no earlier than the start of the winter flight season, in order to reduce further the aftershocks of rescheduling their expansive summer flight plans.

Both airlines splashed out with increased capacity and destinations from their new Berlin hub — Lufthansa with a five-fold increase, airberlin with daily direct flights to long-haul destinations in North America, Africa and the Middle East — that will now have to be shoehorned into Tegel’s already-overloaded gates. You can read more about their side of the fiasco here.

Scheduled to pass through BER?

If you have a ticket into or out of BER, don’t worry:  once the new schedules have been ironed out, your airline will be in contact with you shortly about any possible schedule or airport changes.

If you’re trying to schedule a flight into Berlin after June 3rd, it’s likely that BER is the only airport code that will be accepted. Book it without question; again, your airline will contact you with the alterations to your reserved itinerary.

About the author

Hilary Bown

An academic by training, a writer by day, and a Cheapo by heritage, Hilary Bown's meagre means and insatiable travel appetite have helped her sharpen her "no-budget travel" skills across the European continent over the past decade. At home in Berlin or on an adventure abroad, you'll find her in sandals, riding the bus, reading novels while walking, drinking the local wine, writing out postcards with a felt-tip pen, and browsing the shelves of the supermarket and hardware store. Find her unique blend of travel adventure and tested advice at Less Than a Shoestring.

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