Chaos and shambles at Berlin airport

BERLIN LETTER

It was a year ago, October 31, 2020. That day, eight years behind schedule, Berlin inaugurated its new airport. At the time, everyone was hoping that a page had been turned and that this brand new piece of equipment named after former Chancellor Willy Brandt, whose opening had been announced six times and six times postponed, would finally cease to exist. ‘to be a national laughing stock.

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It was a mistake. A year later, the fiasco is total. On the weekend of October 9, the increase in traffic linked to the start of the autumn holidays in Berlin and the neighboring Land of Brandenburg caused chaos: subjected to endless waits at check-in counters and ticket controls. safety, many passengers missed their plane. So much so that Lufthansa advised its customers to arrive at Willy-Brandt airport not two, but four hours before the departure of their flight …

Since then, the airport has experienced other setbacks. On Tuesday, November 2, fecal germs were discovered in the water – supposed to be drinkable – flowing from the taps of the toilets. On Friday, November 5, traffic was totally disorganized for more than half a day after a smoke detector went off in a toilet where someone had lit a cigarette. Hundreds of passengers who were already in the boarding area had to go through security checks a second time, causing take-off delays of several hours, and even the cancellation of some flights. The incident also affected arrivals, with some travelers having to wait for their luggage for more than five hours after their plane landed.

A catastrophic financial situation

For the airport management company (FBB), this last episode could not have come at a bad time. It was in fact on November 5 that its president, Aletta von Massenbach, submitted to the Federal Ministry of Transport the report that the latter had commissioned after the black weekend at the start of the autumn holidays.

In this four-page document, the FBB acknowledges – with a certain art of understatement – that the situation “Is not optimal” but explains that the disruptions that took place in October are first of all linked to the circumstances: having slowed down since its opening, in the middle of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the new airport was not organized to cope to the increase in traffic recorded at the start of autumn. Citing additional staffing needs, management promises a “Assessment of security control capabilities”, a “Improvement of sanitary facilities” and an “Reconfiguration of the check-in hall”. Also cited is the dire shortage of taxis due to a conflict over licensing between the Land of Berlin and the district of Brandenburg, where the airport is located.

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Chaos and shambles at Berlin airport

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