Berlin Brandenburg in the starting blocks

Bernie Baldwin

Despite this year’s challenges, the airport team remains on track for an October 2020 take-off.

In case anyone thought the pandemic would add another delay to the opening of Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt Airport (BER) in October 2020, the answer is ‘No!’

“Even though the traffic was down by 99% over the last couple of months, we also received some great news. BER received final approval by the building authorities, which means it is now ready to be used as an airport. It gives us a great confidence that we will be able to open the airport in October this year,” declares Johannes Mohrmann, senior manager, key account and business development, Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg (FBB), the company that operates Berlin’s airports, currently Tegel and Schönefeld (where BER is right now being built).

“We have already started the operational readiness and airport transfer programme,” Mohrmann confirms. “There is a great plan for moving everybody and everything from Tegel Airport to BER. and we’ve already started the training process for people from our company but also for people from airlines, ground handlers and other companies working at the airport. We are looking forward to opening the new airport in October, together with all involved parties.”

As for current operations, FBB reports that post-lockdown traffic has been increasing faster than expected after being brought to a virtual standstill for ten weeks. In mid-June, the number of regular connections from Berlin increased to 40 and by mid-July, around 100 connections will be offered, with up to 20,000 passengers expected at the end of July.

Quick off the mark to return were Lufthansa, easyJet and Ryanair, soon followed with services by Turkish Airlines, Wizz Air, KLM, Air France and Qatar Airways. All this makes it conceivable that traffic will pick up quite quickly. However, social distancing for passengers and staff will remain in place and it is likely that passengers will have to be dispersed over as many terminal areas as possible. Thus Schönefeld will remain operational until the end of October and Tegel until 8 November to be able to reliably maintain this position until BER is fully commissioned.

Mohrmann reports that the FBB team has used the time with less traffic in Berlin fruitfully. “We’ve looked at all the processes and products we offer to our airlines and passengers. We came up with some pretty good ideas to enhance those and hopefully we will introduce these ideas soon and before the opening of BER,” he comments.

With Berlin Brandenburg set to be the city’s conduit for all commercial aviation, easy ground access will be paramount. “BER is located just south of Schönefeld Airport, which means it is a bit further out than Tegel is, but it is better connected to the public transport here in Berlin,” Mohrmann emphasises. “It is just under half an hour from Berlin main train station, and less than 20 minutes from the east side of the city centre, which is great, even compared with Tegel.”

With lockdown lifted and BER’s opening now only a short time away, Mohrmann is excited. “We are looking forward to welcome everybody in October 2020 to our new airport. To be honest I can’t wait to get back and see aircraft departing and landing – and to see passengers travelling through our airport,” he concludes.

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