Cost Explosion Price Tag for New Berlin Airport Keeps Rising
The seemingly neverending story of the German capital's scandal-plagued new airport continues: The much-delayed project is expected to cost far more than previously thought. And Berlin's mayor appears to be planning a return to the airport's supervisory board.
The forthcoming Berlin Airport will cost more than its previous estimate of 4.3 billion ($5.9 billion), according to a member of the project's supervisory board.
Rainer Bretschneider told public broadcaster ZDF on Sunday that the airport, which still lacks an official opening date, may breach the 5-billion mark. He added that costly noise insulation, previously budgeted at 305 million, may ultimately cost twice that amount.
"I still believe the airport will be able to cover its costs, but not as swiftly as thought," Bretschneider said.
Cleaning, heating and lighting the fallow airport, officially called Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt Airport (BER), was previously found to be costing taxpayers 20 million per month -- more than the still-operational Tegel Airport.
BER was originally slated for a 2010 opening, but a long list of problems ranging from an insufficient fire safety system to cracks in the tile floors has forced officials to postpone the opening four times. The earliest estimates place the opening at some time next year.
Meanwhile Berlin's mayor, Klaus Wowereit, is eyeing a permanent return to the top post of the airport's governing body. He gave up the office to the governor of the surrounding state of Brandenburg, Matthias Platzeck, earlier this year after the airport's opening was postponed indefinitely. Wowereit stepped back into the role in August after Platzeck resigned, agreeing to lead the board until a new chair could be elected.
That election was due to take place on Wednesday, but Wowereit took it off the board's agenda late last week amid doubts that he could win the support of the Brandenburg state government. Thomas Heilmann, justice senator in Berlin's city-state government and a member of the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), is also interested in the post, according to sources in the Berlin government.
The post is now set to be filled by December, when official talks between the CDU and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) on forming a national coalition government will presumably be concluding. Wowereit, a big name in the SPD, could then enjoy more support from his party on the national level.