Berlin’s head of government, Muller, does not expect a new opening date for the airport any time soon. This is fueling new speculation.
Construction workers will still be on the road here for a long time: BER construction site in Schonefeld Photo: dpa
After the new delays and personnel turbulence at the planned capital city airport BER will probably still be unclear for months about an opening date. "I think we are nowhere near the point where we can discuss new dates," Berlin’s governing mayor Michael Muller (SPD) told the House of Representatives on Thursday.
First, according to the still head of the supervisory board, it is a matter of analyzing the new situation. Among other things, an expert opinion that became known the day before, according to which the opening could even be postponed to 2019, is to be used for this purpose. On this basis, the new BER managing director Engelbert Lutke Daldrup, who was appointed on Monday, would then work out a schedule.
Lutke Daldrup – until now State Secretary in Muller’s Senate Chancellery – was unanimously appointed by the Supervisory Board on Monday to succeed the previous airport CEO Karsten Muhlenfeld. Muhlenfeld was fired after high-handed personnel decisions.
Just a few weeks ago, the manager had to concede that technical problems would prevent the opening of the new Capital Airport in 2017 as well. A report by a management consultancy, which became known on Wednesday, now also calls into question a most recently targeted BER opening in 2018, should the management not quickly get technical and other problems under control.
Muller said he assumes that the next supervisory board meeting on March 17 will first be about the new personnel structures of the control body. It is possible that the new report will already be discussed. Muller wants to resign as chairman of the supervisory board, and Brandenburg’s airport coordinator Rainer Bretschneider could become the new chief controller.
The opposition in the House of Representatives directed heavy accusations against Muller because of the BER disaster. "What has happened here in recent weeks under your direction really defies description," said CDU Secretary General Stefan Evers, addressing Muller.
Muller had ensured that Berlin had made a complete fool of itself. In this respect it is good that he withdraws from the supervisory board. Into the committee Berlin must send now external experts instead of politicians. "The interference of politics must stop." The Berlin Chamber of Construction also agreed with this.
A good five years after the first opening date fell through, Lufthansa believes that the interior of the BER terminal may no longer be up to date. The interior is the same as it was back then, said board member Harry Hohmeister at the ITB travel trade show in Berlin. He said he did not know to what extent changes in customer processes and digitization were already occurring there.
"Just take the status in 2010, Munich Airport, and the status today at Munich Airport – then you can see what has changed there," Hohmeister said. "We then have to incorporate all of that in Berlin as well somehow. So it’s all going to be a rougher exercise." But he said his colleagues are in good spirits to get it right. "But if you knew the date, that would be worth something."
Should the BER actually not be able to open until 2020 at the earliest, the Senate would have to tackle noise protection measures for the noise-plagued residents of Tegel Airport in the view of Kai Wegner, a CDU member of the Bundestag from Spandau. "For years, people in Spandau, Reinickendorf and also Pankow have been hoping for promises from the Senate that they would be able to live more quietly as soon as BER airport is on the grid," Wegner explained. The failure of the airport planners must not be at the expense of the residents of Tegel Airport.