Berlin’s new airport—Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER)—is now set to open at the end of October 2020, eight years later than originally planned.

Airport operator Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH confirmed Oct. 31 as the day for the official first landings at the site, and the start of a transition period of all operations to the new facility from the old Berlin Tegel Airport.

BER was supposed to have opened in 2011. The opening was delayed multiple times as the facility fell short of fire protection standards and upgrades proved hugely complex. Earlier installations had to be torn off and a new approval process started. Airport management was changed several times as later deadlines were not met.

Rainer Bretschneider, head of the airport’s supervisory board, said some complex tasks remain to be completed but he is optimistic the opening date will finally be kept.

Observers have identified political interference as one of the main reasons for the delays. At some point in the construction phase, the contract with the construction planning bureau was terminated and the airport operator took over planning and construction supervision, a task for which it did not have the resources or expertise.

The move to BER will happen in three steps. UK LCC easyJet will be the first to use the new facilities for arrivals on Oct. 31. Other operators will follow on Nov. 3 and 4. Tegel airport, popular with business travelers because of its relative proximity to the city center, is planned to be closed Nov. 8.

One of the new airport’s challenges is capacity constraints. Supported by fast-growing carriers like easyJet, now the city’s biggest player, air traffic has grown by double digits for several years, faster than anticipated.

Jens Flottau, jens.flottau@aviationweek.com