Berlin opening new state-of-the-art airport in June
On June 3, when Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) opens nearly 20 years after German reunification, Germany’s capital will finally have a single international gateway airport worth of its 21st century status a a world city and forward-looking creative hub. The new €2.5 billion replaces Tegel and Schönefeld, and also Tempelhof, which was closed in 2008. Construction on BER began in 2006 on the at the site of the former East German Schönefeld Airport, 18 miles south of the city center. To accommodate today’s (and hopefully tomorrow’s) aircraft, nearly 2,500 acres were added to the old grounds. The airport now covers 3,675 acres with a host of ultra-modern buildings, super-efficient infrastructure and two parallel state-of-the-art runways more than a mile apart.
Construction is in its final phase with the new terminal, jetways, road connections and operation-specific buildings mostly completed. The meticulous Germans have been conducting basic test operations since November 24, 2011, in order to make a smooth transition from old to new a bit over two months from now. These test runs include security forces, airline employees and ground crews are currently to reveal any possible operational weak spots and to remedy any potential problems.
The new airport features one central six-story terminal between the two runways handling both domestic and international traffic. It will open with a capacity of 27 million passengers per year, 10 percent more than Tegel and Schönefeld’s combine. Expansion modules will allow for future growth up to 45 million passengers. This new hub airport was designed by the internationally renowned firm of Von Gerkan, Marg and Partners Architects, whose concept was to use the clean, geometric lines to channel the timeless beauty of the 1926 Bauhaus in Dessau. Among their recent commissions are Hangzhou South Railway Station (China), the Sports Complex Lausanne (Switzerland) and the YOTAL New York (USA).
Trains will be leaving a railway station under the main terminal every 15 minutes. Travel time to Berlin’s city center will be less than half an hour and cost just €3 Euros. Parking for 10,000 cars and a new network of access roads and highways will allow travelers to reach Berlin’s city center in around 25 minutes. And there will even be one bicycle path to and from the city. Of course, it is a green project with a range of eco-friendly measures to ensure the new airport’s sustainability ranging from protection of flora and fauna at the construction to heat and energy recycling systems incorporated into the design. In the future, officials, say, BER may even use of rainwater cooling systems and tap into geothermal energy.
Of particular interest to US travelers is that Germany’s two major airlines, Lufthansa and airberlin, are inaugiurating new routes from many European destinations and also Los Angeles International Airport.