Newly Updated, Berlin Airport Is One of Europe's Most Modern

Getty Images Christian Marquardt / Contributor

Europe’s most modern airport: Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg (BER) is finally open, following serious construction issues and an eight-year delay.

A Historical Date

It was a grand opening gala on a historical day, as exactly 100 years ago, the German engineer Otto Lilienthal had succeeded to take off with one of his self-constructed flying machines thus paving the way for modern aviation.

The Downsides of the “Early” Opening

BER wasn’t a picture book success story. The media didn’t hold back and mocked the politicians involved in its organisation and construction. Educators even invented a new grammar tense in German: The Futur III. This tense is used to talk about something (like an airport that is continuously delayed) that may finally be considered sufficiently ready without committing to a certain point in time. But now that BER has finally begun its services, The Futur III has to be eradicated from German textbooks again. Publishing house Hueber estimates the costs of removing the latest addition to German grammar at 50 million Euros and is suing the state of Berlin for compensation. The former head of Deutsche Bank, Hilmar Kopper, simply called Hueber’s demand “peanuts”. The German people are not amused. 

Free Flights as “Wiedergutmachung”

With support of the German Bundestag under Angela Merkel, the Berlin government has offered all current inhabitants of Berlin one free flight from BER as compensation for the PR disaster of the last ten years that has led many to question claims of efficiency and engineering. Berlin’s GDP has suffered significantly from the delay and theoretically cost each inhabitant an estimated Euro 1420,16. The free flight offer is, however, believed to be a marketing stunt to repair the image of the Berlin officials who were mainly responsible for the massive construction delay and the PR disaster.

It’s Already too Small

Ten years is a very long time and the economy hasn’t been sleeping while Berliners waited for BER to open. Germany’s domestic economy has risen significantly in the last decade and most goods are now shipped by plane. Experts estimate that BER was already too small to handle the level of traffic right before it had officially gone into operation. But as an expansion would take the airport agency another five years and yet another Euro 100 million they are reluctant to invest more time and money into BER. Alternatively, they are considering outsourcing the expansion to the Varsovian airport. Not only would the construction and running cost decrease by 50% but it would also reduce noise emissions against which local residents have protested heavily. As the Polish government is currently under pressure to create job opportunities for the 400 asylum seekers that have chosen Poland as a place they want to try to call home, this would be an ideal solution for everyone involved. 

New Name, New Image

Originally the BER airport was named after Willy Brandt, a then well-known social democrat who died in 1992. Brandt received a Nobel Peace Prize for his outstanding work as the Bundeskanzler building Germany’s relationships with states in the Middle-East and Eastern Europe. However, in 2016, independent surveys have shown that only 1% of the current German population below the age of 72 associate anything with the name Brandt and it’s not the politician but a famous German Zwieback brand. Officials have therefore decided to rename the airport after a more prominent and contemporary  person. Their decision is expected by the end of this year and they have to chose from the following four celebrities:

  • Angela Merkel Fluchthafen (name recognition: 98,3%)
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger Kraftport (name recognition: 71,3% mainly among American expats, bodybuilders and Austrians looking for any way to be distinguished from Germans)
  • Mesut Özil Flugballplatz (name recognition: 100%)
  • FC Bayern München Flugarena (name recognition: 120%) 

It’s not going to be easy but imagine landing on Arnold Schwarzenegger Kraftport. I imagine one would feel immediately strengthened after a long and wearisome flight, right? 

German Infrastructure

In the last decade Germany has invested billions in three projects that will raise Germany’s reputation significantly. They are: the Stuttgart train station (Euro 6.5 billion), BER discussed above (Euro 5 billion) and the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie (Euro 3.9 billion).