The construction of the new Berlin Airport, which began on September 5, 2006, was one of the largest construction projects in Germany that was ever planned and implemented.
The start of flight operations was originally planned for November 2011. The opening date was postponed a total of seven times due to faulty construction planning, a lack of supervision and extensive technical defects. Due to the bad planning and the exploding costs, last estimated at over seven billion euros, this construction project became the symbol of a large-scale government project that got out of control. The airport finally opened in October 2020 after 14 years of construction.
Invitation to business friends in Istanbul
Shortly before Christmas, we had received an invitation to visit business friends in Istanbul, so it made sense to use Berlin Airport as our departure and arrival airport, as the offer was suitable and the distance was also manageable. Once again, however, we had to realize that public transport was hardly available and therefore could not realistically be planned or used. So back to the journey by car.
According to the internet portal, 10,000 paid parking spaces are available to the public at the airport in five multi-storey car parks and in 13 other parking areas, and 5,000 additional parking spaces are provided for airport employees. In addition, there are several, often cheaper, long-term car parks (from 8 days parking time) operated by other providers, parking spaces in the surrounding hotel car parks and valet parking. This almost doubles the number of parking spaces. Booked online in advance, the price was also acceptable. We were curious, because for the first time we were supposed to drive into the car park using a QR code and then out again after three days, each with a tolerance of around 2 hours, which significantly increased our scepticism.
Security checks and check-in - pure chaos
However, our scepticism turned out to be quite justified. Fortunately, with the grace period set up for parking, we were at the airport in good time and the check-in was done in advance, but the airport staff sent us to an alternative security check right at the entrance, as the main area was completely overloaded. Well, we thought, at least there is an alternative. However, we were shocked when we saw the built-up pathways and the crowds of people who had to go through the security check. Just unbelievable! And the established meridians clearly showed that this is not an exceptional situation. Getting hundreds of people through security is chaos, and it was! People who fear not catching their flight on time because security checks are simply understaffed need not be when an airport of this size is being planned and built. Here, exceptional situations such as Corona or similar can no longer be used as an excuse. Here it is clearly misjudgements, planning errors and inadequate personnel policy. Our German billiger.de mentality hits back mercilessly.
Just as an aside: The airport is operated by Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH and is fully public. The owners of the GmbH are the states of Berlin and Brandenburg, each with 37 percent, and the Federal Republic of Germany with 26 percent.
BER runways – purely technical comments
Berlin Brandenburg Airport has two parallel runways, 07R/25L and 07L/25R. The distance between the runways is 1900 m, the offset 1250 m. This means that both runways can be operated independently of one another without being affected by wake turbulence. All taxiways, aprons and runways occupy an area of approximately 1.7 km².
The former northern runway of Schönefeld Airport was closed in December 2007 so that a missing 650 m long section of the federal motorway 113 could be built. The previous southern runway 07/25 at Schönefeld Airport was adapted and renamed as the new northern runway: it was extended from 3000 to 3600 m in accordance with ICAO standards. The renaming took place on May 3, 2012, after the runway had been lengthened to 3600 meters on April 23, 2012.
Passenger boarding bridges and apron at the main pier
In May 2011 the new southern runway 07R/25L was completed. In October 2011, the marking of the areas and lanes began. The new southern runway was implemented in the Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP) on the AIRAC date of May 31, 2012, but initially closed by NOTAM. On June 29, 2012, the runways of the new BER operating areas were released for traffic from Berlin-Schoenefeld Airport. Further areas should gradually go into operation before the opening.
The date for the temporary closure of the current northern runway 07L/25R and the subsequent exclusive processing of operations via the new southern runway 07R/25L was May 2, 2015. Work on the renovation of the northern runway began on May 6, 2015 It has been in operation again since 2016. As of September 30, 2014, only 3,000 out of around 4,000 noise abatement measures had been approved. At the time, this date was still the end of the deadline, since six months' notice was required before the first flight.
If only there could be a solution for the security checks! It was only thanks to the timely arrival that we were able to catch our flight. Well, so there was little time to visit the huge storefronts of duty-free goods, which at least saved us costs as well.
By the way: It is possible to travel to BER Airport by bike!
At Terminal 1 there are video-monitored bicycle parking spaces (bicycle hangers) on level U1. Access to the terminal is via Willy-Brandt-Platz. At Terminal 5 (former Schönefeld Airport) there are bicycle racks in front of terminal area K. The approach to Terminal 1 from Berlin is via the cycle path along the A 113 and in the airport area via cycle paths and footpaths alongside the road along the Berliner Chaussee, Kienberger Bridge, Waltersdorfer Allee and Hugo-Eckener-Allee. There is currently no description of how to get there for bicycle traffic on the airport's website. Instead, reference is made to the external website bike2ber.de, which shows all bicycle routes. The route is signposted on site with BIKE2BER.
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