Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Berlin Airport Frustrations

Back in the 1990s....Berlin and the powers-to-be....sat down and perceived this great rebuilding of Berlin and the influx of air travel.  There were three airports around the area: Schonefeld (the old DDR airport), Tegal (in old West Berlin), and Templehof.  Templehof was basically shut down (too short of a runway).

What everyone agreed upon....was that Schonefeld and Tegal had limits and would never be able to carry the passengers that folks anticipated within twenty years.  So a new airport would be built.  The expectation was that it'd be operational by 2010, and fully functional by 2012.  Today?  The new airport is now anticipated to open in 2016, but most folks aren't betting on the new opening date.

Yesterday, a big article came out over Tegal and Schonefeld.  A decade ago....the passenger flow at both airports was around twelve million a year.  Everyone believed that the new airport would be opened by 2010 and absorb the growing numbers.  In 2010, with no new airport open.....Tegal and Schonefeld were handling around twenty million passengers a year.  In 2013.....they went over the twenty-six million point.  By 2016?  My gut feeling is that they will be around thirty-four million.

If serious amounts of infrastructure funding had been pushed into Tegal and Schonefeld back in 2000....maybe the current perception of both would be positive....but the big funding....was pushed toward the new airport instead.  Currently.....the majority of passengers going through Tegal and Schonefeld are unhappy with various conditions.  You need to allocate extra time to get through the security apparatus of both airports.  Neither were built to handle this amount of growth.

I was looking at the numbers....almost 1.6 million passengers a year leave Tegal Airport....for Frankfurt (just barely seventy minutes away).....mostly to catch international flights to get out of Germany.  Just slightly less than that.....were 1.5 million passengers a year leaving for Munich....again about seventy minutes away....for the same reason.

What happens if the new airport is delayed another year....perhaps even two years (2018)?  That's a curious question.  There is a massive amount of negativity associated with Tegal and Schonefeld currently.  By growing another five million in passengers in the's begging for a public relations disaster.

Because of the lack of central authority over the whole airport one is really getting blamed.  People just stand there....shaking their heads over the screwed up project, the two ailing operational airports there currently, and a massive magnet like Berlin drawing more people each month.  No one can get fired.  No one can get blamed.  I can't think of any place in the world that would just accept it as "normal".....yet here is such an animal.

My general advice on travel to Berlin?  If you had to go into the city from a distant land.....I'd probably land at a ICE-train ticket and ride the Bahn all the way into Berlin's central station (three hours, I know).  But it's a relative stress-free three hours, and as you leave Berlin to return to your homeland.....I'd do the same route in reverse....thus avoiding the security delays, and the frustrating functionality of either operational Berlin airports.

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