BERLIN (AP) — A hard-nosed manager with a history of overseeing corporate turnarounds was named Friday as the new CEO of Berlin's airports, putting him in charge of completing the capital's new hub after a string of embarrassing delays.
Hartmut Mehdorn, 70, formerly headed Germany's national railway and its second-biggest airline. He takes over from Rainer Schwarz, who was fired in January shortly after the opening of the new airport was delayed for the fourth time — and the third such setback in less than a year.
The delays have become a national joke. The airport was first scheduled to open in late 2011; officials decided in January not to set a new date, but say it may now take until 2015 to get it ready. Planners and builders are struggling with technical problems, above all an elaborate fire safety system.
"We will do everything to speed up the completion of the airport," said Mehdorn.
The new Willy Brandt airport is supposed to replace the city's two aging and increasingly cramped airports, Tegel and Schoenefeld, which served West and East Berlin respectively during Germany's Cold War division.