It seems entirely fitting then that Berlin Brandenburg-Willy Brandt Airport (BER) finally opened its doors on Hallowe’en in 2020, this most bizarre of years.
Nearly a decade behind schedule and billions of euros over budget, Berlin’s new airport is finally ready to take flight. Maybe more importantly, the German capital is also free of this most cumbersome of albatrosses. It’s a win win! Construction started on the airport in 2006, 17 years after the idea of a single city airport was first mooted in the joyful air of unification. The idea was to open in 2011, but almost everything conspired against the airport, as poor planning and execution collided with mismanagement and corruption, a troublesome quartet that isn’t often overcome.
But Berlin finally did overcome it, and Berlin Brandenburg Airport is now open. Named after former West Berlin mayor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Willy Brandt, the airport is to act as a hub for Lufthansa and EasyJet, although the miserable travel situation in 2020 has left both of those famous names in choppy waters. Passenger traffic is down 73% for one, and BER received €300m in state aid before a single passenger had been checked in.
Those days are now done, as Berlin’s shiny new airport is finally open for the world to enjoy, or at least for the world to plan on enjoying once a vaccine is sorted out. A 31-year-old dream has finally become a reality, overcoming financial madness, construction issues, a poisoned whistle-blower and all the rest in the process. Happy flying!