November 9, 2021
Breakdowns, pandemics and staff shortages: Federal government increases pressure on those responsible for BER
Traffic jam at the security checkpoint at BER. On Friday, a secret smoker probably paralyzed the entire airport.
© Christophe Gateau
Chaos at check-in, germs in the drinking water and a problematic financial situation. One year after the opening, the Minister of Transport describes a current situation report as a “superficial statement”.
After repeated handling problems at the new BER airport in the capital, the airport managers are under pressure. “Such a chaos at BER can no longer exist,” said the acting Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU) of “Bild am Sonntag”. “The daily bad news of damage and even hygiene problems are unacceptable.”
A lack of staff and space problems had caused chaos in the autumn break. On Friday an incorrect evacuation of the security area led to hours of waiting and flight cancellations; The trigger was possibly a smoker in a toilet room. For a few days now, the water in the terminal has not been used as drinking water because germs have been found in it.
The events from Friday are to be evaluated internally, it was said at the weekend by the airport company and the federal police. “Of course everyone has an interest in ensuring that this does not happen next time,” said an airport spokesman.
Management report: “a superficial statement”
Scheuer was also dissatisfied with a situation report that he requested from the airport company and received on Friday. “Unfortunately, I only received a superficial, four-page statement with no details that I will not accept as it is.” The company should provide more information by Wednesday, it said from ministry circles.
In 18 steps
This is how you build the BER in a few minutes
In the report from Friday it says: “Under the given conditions, operations at BER are stable overall, but certainly not yet optimal.” They are working flat out to minimize waiting times. This applies to the signage, additional seating and the cleanliness of the toilet rooms. According to this, a “capacity enhancement of the security controls” and a “reconfiguration in the check-in hall etc.” are being examined.
The report also describes the difficult financial situation of the company. For this year a group loss of 350 million euros is expected. However, the minus is around 50 million euros less than planned. From July to October it was therefore possible to generate a plus in ongoing business.
All airports are facing economic difficulties due to the collapse in passenger numbers in the corona pandemic. BER is also burdened by high debts from the long construction and renovation period of the airport; it went online last autumn nine years late.
The airport company is pressing for a partial debt discharge by the states of Berlin and Brandenburg and the federal government as the owner. According to this, around 2.4 billion euros will be required by 2026. This means that the company will be able to raise fresh money on the capital market again in 2026; otherwise it will only be possible in the 2030s, the report says.
tib / DPA