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1ST LEAD New Berlin airport to open in 2020, after string of delays By Ella Joyner, dpa

Europe
15.12.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Berlin (dpa) - Berlin‘s BER airport is to open its doors in October 2020, the head of the supervisory board of the Berlin Brandenburg Airport Company (FBB) said Friday, in the sixth attempt by officials to set an opening date for the long-awaited transport hub.

Inspectors unanimously agreed to accept the new opening date, recommended by airport head Luetke Daldrup, Rainer Bretschneider said after a committee meeting in Berlin.

"The appointment is dependable and reliable," Daldrup said.

He added that the postponement has caused a funding gap. A new finance plan is set to be in place by spring 2018.

After one failed start date, the Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) was originally set to open in 2012, but the plug was pulled just weeks before the official opening due to technical problems. It has remained shuttered and under construction since.

Works have been beset by a string of set-backs and scandals, including a roof that was way too heavy, walls that were a fire hazard, bankrupt suppliers and employees caught taking bribes.

Back in August, Daldrup had ruled out an opening before 2019.

Among the changes to be made this time round are reportedly repairs to doors and new water pipes.

The transport hub, intended to propel the German capital into the 21st century, has so far sucked up 6.5 billion euros (7.7 billion dollars) instead of the originally forecast 2 billion, although this was partially due to extension works on the original building plans.

On Tuesday, Berlin Mayor Michael Mueller, Brandenburg state premier Dietmar Woidke and Daldrup conducted an emergency meeting ahead of the announcement.

Some parts of the new complex, which is expected to merge with the existing communist-era Schoenefeld airport on the same site, have begun operations. But the main terminal remains off-limits.

On Monday, the Green party parliamentary leader Anton Hofreiter called for temporary terminals to be set up in Schoenefeld as an interim measure, according to the newspaper Tagesspiegel.

But a group of residents near Schoenefeld has lodged a legal complaint against such a move, a Leipzig court confirmed on Friday.

In September, a city-wide non-binding referendum returned a clear majority in favour of keeping Berlin‘s second airport, Tegel, open.

It was originally due to close in 2012, but has remained open due to repeated delays with the BER project.

 

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