“We can put BER into operation with a clear conscience”

Trial operation at the new capital city airport has been completed. Almost 10,000 extras have tested the airport. Now it should really start on October 31st – around 13 years late.

Finishing touches at BER

Mor more than in any Hollywood film: The Berlin airport company completed trial operations with a total of 9,900 extras and tested the new airport. In addition, more than 24,000 employees were deployed on 47 trial days. The CEO of Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH, Engelbert Lütke Daldrup, named these numbers on Monday. His résumé: “We can put BER into operation on October 31st with a clear conscience.” The company emphasized that the airport had met all the requirements for successful operation. All permits have been granted, all processes have been extensively tested, and the process partners have been optimally prepared for the opening.

The test phase has been running since the beginning of the year. In January, employees of the operating company, the airlines, the federal police, customs and the ground handling service providers were prepared for the opening. Trial operations have started on Tuesdays and Thursdays since April. Around 400 extras were added every day in July. According to the information, 120 logisticians were available for the coordination of extras, luggage and food alone. Around 179,000 pieces of baggage used and 54,000 bookings for 2,350 flights contributed to a “realistic airport impression”.

Larger trash cans and charging points for cell phones

“Valuable feedback” came from the extras, as Flughafen GmbH praised. Corresponding improvements had already been implemented before commissioning. Trash cans were enlarged, the signage adjusted, missing clocks hung up and charging points for cell phones procured, as it was said. “Our main goal of the trial operation was achieved: We have turned the completed building into a functioning airport,” said Lütke Daldrup. According to him, users and partners were able to get to know the airport and become more confident in handling the systems. The motivation to participate in the trial operation and the training was very high despite Corona.

Since 2007 there has been a long series of opening dates for the new capital city airport, which have had to be canceled again and again. Particularly embarrassing: In 2012, the start that was believed to be safe failed due to an inadequate fire protection system – since then, improvements have been made, accompanied by biting ridicule. But now nothing should get in the way. According to the plans, Terminal 1 will open on October 31 with a parallel landing of Lufthansa and Easyjet aircraft. In the evening, more planes are to land, which will then start again on November 1st, the first full day of operation.

For this first day, the airport company expects around 5,000 passengers at Terminal 1 and almost 8,000 passengers at Terminal 5, the former Schönefeld Airport. According to the planning, the last move will take place from November 7th to November 8th, when the last airlines leave Tegel Airport. On November 8th, around 16,000 passengers will be handled at Terminal 1 and almost 8,000 passengers at the BER terminal.

Because of the Corona crisis, all these numbers are significantly lower than would actually be expected in autumn under normal conditions, the operator explained. The terminal capacities would be “far from being exhausted” even if the distance rules were observed. After all, this also has its advantages. The weak passenger numbers meant that the processes at BER did not have to run at full capacity straight away, it was said: “Should problems arise in the first few days, there are enough reserves to be able to react quickly to any disruptions.”