Berlin (dpa) – With two landings initially planned by Easyjet and Lufthansa, the new capital airport BER opens this Saturday. There will be no official celebration in view of the multiple postponements, tripled construction costs and years of delays.
However, the airport will open with prominent guests. Among others, the heads of Lufthansa and Easyjet airlines, Carsten Spohr and Johan Lundgren are expected. The state leaders of Berlin and Brandenburg, Michael Müller and Dietmar Woidke (both SPD) want to come, as well as the federal Minister of Transport, Andreas Scheuer (CSU).
The first takeoff with passengers checked in at BER will take place early Sunday morning. An Easyjet plane is scheduled to leave London Gatwick’s north runway.
“The inauguration is a reward for the perseverance and great commitment of colleagues from the Berlin airports,” said Peter Gerber, president of the Federal Association of the German Aviation Industry (BDL), before the inauguration. “At the same time, the start of flight operations at BER in this deep pandemic-related aviation crisis is a positive ray of hope in difficult times.”
The Arbeitsgemeinschaft Deutscher Verkehrsflughäfen (ADV), the airport’s interest group, also congratulated the inauguration: “Welcome to the airport family! We wish BER all the best for the future, ”said the association. “For the ailing airport industry, it is a sign of confidence,” said Ralph Beisel, CEO of ADV.
The president of the Green parliamentary group, Anton Hofreiter, used the inauguration as an opportunity to recall once again the financial difficulties of the airport company. “BER will continue to burden the public coffers of the federal government and the federal states of Berlin and Brandenburg for years to come,” he said.
Hofreiter is not the only critic. Over the weekend, climate protests from the Stay on the Ground initiative are expected on the BER site. The group announced Friday that they wanted to “massively disrupt” the opening ceremony with a civil disobedience action. “We will block the opening of BER,” said Lena Tucnak, one of the spokespersons. It cannot be that a new airport will open in times of increasingly severe climate crisis.
The government terminal on the BER site has been in operation since last week. Another passenger terminal is ready, but will not go into operation until next year due to the crown-related collapse in passenger numbers.
With the opening day on Saturday, the train service to BER will also be extended. From now on, regional and long-distance trains also stop there. The S-Bahn has been traveling to the new location every 10 minutes since Wednesday. The Steigenberger Hotel will also reopen on the airport grounds. The hotel had already been completed in 2012 and had been open for three weeks until it had to close for eight years after the failed opening.
However, traders shouldn’t expect a lot of guests in the coming weeks. The airport manager, Engelbert Lütke Daldrup, had recently expected only around 5,000 passengers on the airport’s opening day at the main terminal T1. With the closure of Tegel a week later, around 16,000 passengers would be handled daily on T1. Another 8,000 passengers would then travel through Schönefeld Airport, which serves as Terminal 5 for BER.