Preparations for the opening of BER airport

Berlin – Last Friday, on 9th October, in their final meeting before the airport becomes operational, the supervisory board of the airport company addressed the final preparations for opening the BER Airport on the 31st of October 2020. Additionally, the board received reports concerning the economic challenges of the coming years and decided on their economic strategy for 2021.

In their report to the supervisory board, the Chief Executive Officer and Head of Operations emphasised how the final phase of preparation for assuming operations is making very good progress. The aviation authorities granted BER the final operation licence on the 1st of October, and ORAT trial operations will finish as planned on the 15th of October after 47 successful days of testing involving 9,000 extras. In addition to the final two exercises in the coming weeks, several rehearsals with aeroplanes will take place. One of the last focuses of the preparation is the final tests of the airside processes regarding the handling of aircraft.

Also nearing completion is the building of shops and catering facilities at BER. Almost all commercial spaces will open on the 1st of November, the first day that flights will depart from BER. Many of the shops and restaurants in the marketplace will be represented at the official opening on the 31st of October. In Terminal 1, there are a total of 100 rental spaces and 11 mobile catering units. Furthermore, there is a Lufthansa lounge and three lounges run by the FBB: the Tempelhof Lounge in the south main pier, the Tegel Lounge in the north main pier, and the VIP Lounge with direct access to multi-storey carpark 1 in the south pier.

The executive board was able to report to the supervisory board that the federal government would start using the airport for government flights on the 21st of October, one and a half weeks before the opening of BER. From then, guests of the state will be received in Schönefeld next to Terminal 5. The Executive Transport Wing for members of the government at BER will be working as well. The FBB had previously completed the government terminal and the apron of Ramp1 in autumn 2018.

The economic plan laid out by the executive board for the year 2021 displays special characteristics due to the coronavirus pandemic. With the background of the collapsing aviation industry, the future economic development of the FBB is fraught with uncertainty. In order to still be able to map the spectrum of possibilities, the executive board introduced two additional scenarios with different assumptions about the future of transport development to the supervisory board, in addition to the management plan with around 18 million passengers. The medium-term plan, in addition to the 2021 business plan, should be introduced in the first quarter of the coming year, and will also be based on the different development scenarios.

Due to the coronavirus crisis, the company continues to be reliant on help from its shareholders in order to secure the liquidity of the airport operating company in the coming year. After detailed consultation, the supervisory board agreed to accept shareholder loans in the coming year in the amount of up to 552 million euros. For the current year, the shareholders granted a subsidy according to the general federal guidelines to compensate for the loss during the lockdown between the 4th of March and the 30th of June, in the amount of 98.8 million euros. For the second half of the year, up to 201 million euros of shareholder loans are to be accepted in order to balance out losses due to the ongoing weak air operations. Only 10 million passengers are expected in total 2020, compared to almost 36 million in 2019.

Rainer Bretschneider, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH: “BER is ready for operation! Against all odds, we achieved our goal. Thank you to everyone who fought alongside us and believed in us. Now we face the new challenge of coping with the financial problems caused by the coronavirus crisis.”

Engelbert Lütke Daldrup, CEO of Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH: “In three weeks, we will finally have a modern airport which will give an important economic boost to the whole of eastern Germany. Now it’s a question of also getting a fair chance in international competition and securing air rights for flights to Asia. In order to make the German economy as successful as before the pandemic in all regions or the country, we need three international airports in Germany which offer an intercontinental connection. Two airports in the west of the country is not enough.” (Foto: BER)