The ongoing saga of Berlin’s years-behind, over-budget, white-elephant airport may not have a happy ending, according to multiple people who have been involved with the project. The Times of London reports:
Berlin-Brandenburg airport is five years behind schedule, £5 billion over budget and a national disgrace for a country that prides itself on technical excellence.
Dieter Faulenbach da Costa, chief planner for the project until 1999, told theBerliner Morgenpost newspaper that he doubted whether it would ever welcome flights or passengers.
He blamed four years of work to change fire safety systems, including removing hundreds of defective firewalls. That topped a catalogue of errors that included hundreds of miles of wiring that had to be ripped out of leaking underground conduits, luggage relay systems stuck on stop and a computer system so complex that nobody could work out how to turn off the lights.
Delays are costing £15 million each month, including £120,000 to clean the unused terminals and thousands more keeping them lit to prevent vandalism.
Mr Faulenbach da Costa is not the only recent critic of the airport’s progress. Berlin-Brandenburg recently fired its PR chief, who, rather too truthfully, told journalists that claims of the project going well were “bullshit”.
Daniel Abbou said: “Believe me. No politician, no airport director and no person who is not addicted to drugs can make a firm guarantee about this airport.” His successor insists, however, that it is on course for an opening next year.
In 2015, WRM pointed out that, while this kind of incompetence might not seem very German, it is in fact just another facet of the national character:
And then there’s the comic tale of incompetence, bad planning, and dolce far niente that is the Willy Brandt Airport in Berlin. Under planning since 1990, the airport wasn’t necessary because of a need for more plane space, or for economic reasons, or for anything so practical as all that—rather, it was supposed to be a grand symbol of reunification. As an excellent, darkly entertaining piece by Joshua Harris in Bloomberg in July recounts, the 2011 grand opening had to be delayed because of the discovery of design flaws that eventually numbered 150,000. 85,000 of these were deemed “serious.” The worst problems of all were related to its fire suppression systems, which were so dysfunctional that at one point the plan was just to have minimum-wage workers with walkie-talkies looking for smoke. Four years later, it looks like that still hasn’t been sorted out.
[…] The airport is now slated to open in 2017 at the earliest.