Berlin denies further delays to opening of new airport

Berlin denies further delays to opening of new airport

Authorities in Berlin have denied reports of a fresh delay in opening the new Berlin Brandenburg airport.

The airport’s new chief operating officer Horst Amann issued a statement late yesterday saying the planned opening on March 17 next year was still being evaluated.

His statement followed a nine-hour meeting of the airport’s supervisory board.

However, the Financial Times quoted reports in Germany that a €1.2 billion (£1 billion) hole in the airport’s budget would cause a further delay.

The opening has already been delayed twice. The airport was originally due to open in November 2011 and then in June this year.

The June opening was postponed at short notice following problems in certifying the fire prevention system. A proposal to open the airport this autumn was then overruled by regulators and led to a management overhaul.

Amman said a decision on whether to go ahead with the opening next March would be made next month.

He said: “I am evaluating the feasibility of the planned opening date. Contrary to media reports there have been no new developments.

"We are not yet in a position to conclude our evaluation. We expect to have clarity by mid-September.”

The bill for the airport, next to the site of the existing Berlin Schonefeld airport, has overrun by almost one third.

Both Schonefeld and Berlin Tegel airports are due to close when the new airport opens.

The delays have led to pressure on both the mayor of Berlin and the premier of the state of Brandenberg to resign.

Air Berlin, which plans to use the new airport as a hub, blamed a portion of the €169 million (£135 million) half-year loss it reported this week on the cost of the delays.

Michael Hoppe, general secretary of the board of airline representatives in Germany, told the Financial Times: “It’s a big financial burden when you have to continually change your plans.”

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