Berlin / Schönefeld (dpa) – The airport in the capital BER has fully started operations: for the first time, a regular plane landed on the newly built southern runway. It was a long-haul flight operated by Qatar Airways from the Qatari capital, Doha.
This means that the Willy Brandt airport has officially gone into operation in terms of approval. The airport firefighters received the aircraft with a water fountain. BER’s main terminal T1 opened over the weekend with a nine-year delay and the first passengers were processed there.
Airport chief Engelbert Lütke Daldrup took the opportunity to speak in favor of more long-haul flights on BER. “We finally have an airport that meets international standards,” he said on Wednesday after landing. In addition to existing long-distance connections with the US, Singapore, China, and Iran, among others, it promises more options. “On the one hand, this is a task that the airport has to carry out.” At the same time, however, it also needs political support. “The airport will provide an important base for the time after the pandemic,” said Lütke Daldrup.
Lufthansa Group Director Carsten Spohr had expressed skepticism over the weekend regarding long-haul routes, whether the new airport would play a more important role for the group itself. “There are historical reasons why long-distance traffic in Germany does not take place from the two largest cities, but from the two hubs of Munich and Frankfurt,” Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr said on Saturday. “And I think BER won’t change any of that either.”
With the official opening of the airport in mid-week, more airlines moved from the previous location in Tegel to BER. As one of the largest suppliers, Eurowings changed locations on Tuesday. More relocations, especially for the Lufthansa Group, are planned for the last day of operations at Tegel Airport on Saturday.
This brings closure of the former North Berlin location. One last special flight from Tegel is scheduled for Sunday: an Air France plane to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport.
According to Lütke Daldrup, more than 24 million passengers were handled last year at Tegel Airport, which was last designed for around ten million passengers a year. In the Corona crisis, as in all airports, the numbers massively collapsed. “We must all have a bit of sadness and a lot of emotions associated with this airport. He has a long history and has always acted, ”said Lütke Daldrup.
Tegel will remain operational for half a year after closing. It is not until May 4, 2021 that you will finally go offline and lose your airport license.
Until now, flights in BER have only been handled by the northern runway, which already belonged to the old Schönefeld airport. The newly constructed second runway south of the main building remained closed until Wednesday. Early on Wednesday morning, the staff removed the marks from the pilots in the air. Schönefeld now serves as Terminal 5 for BER.