Back in 2012 I booked a flight to Berlin that was scheduled to land at the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport. Before I flew, however, I received a message from the airline telling me that the new airport’s opening was delayed and that I’d be landing at the venerable Berlin Tegel instead.
Every Berliner knows the new airport is late. Few know exactly why. We’re here to explain. BER is the international airport code for Berlin Brandenburg Airport, nickname Willy Brandt. It has also become a signifier of failure, incompetence, corruption and Berlin’s general inability to get its act together.
If you’ve flown to Berlin Schönefeld Airport in the last few years, you’ll have seen BER as your plane taxied along the runway. But despite outward appearances, BER is far from finished. It has been under construction for 11 years, blown through six opening dates, three general managers and two state leaders. Costs have ballooned from around €1 billion to at least €5.4 billion.
Across this series, you’ll learn why the escalators are too short, why the lights are always on, and why the rooms seemed to be numbered by bingo. We’ll interview insiders and disgruntled workers, chase ghost trains running to the terminal, and go inside the unfinished airport.