Berlin delays June opening of new airport

Associated Press Modified: May 8, 2012 at 1:16 pm •  Published: May 8, 2012

BERLIN (AP) — Officials have canceled next month's planned opening of Berlin's new airport, saying it will take at least until August before all necessary fire safety checks have been completed.

The delay is an embarrassment for planners and authorities in the German capital, who had hoped the June 3 opening of the Willy Brandt Airport — named after the former West Berlin mayor and later chancellor — would mark another chapter in the reunification of the formerly divided city.

The €2.5-billion ($3.3-billion) project is meant to replace Berlin's two aging airports, Tegel and Schoenefeld, which belonged to West and East Germany respectively.

The new airport operator's managing director, Rainer Schwarz, said all flights booked for the period after June 3 will take place, but passengers will have to travel to the old airports instead.

"I won't hide the fact that I'm really angry," said Matthias Platzeck, the governor of Berlin's neighboring state of Brandenburg, where the new airport is located.

Platzeck vowed to investigate why information about the delay was revealed only weeks before the first flights were due to take off, and with a huge opening party already planned.

Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit said the delay "will cost money" but declined to put a price tag on it, saying it was first necessary to discuss the matter with all companies and airlines involved.

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