Some say it's "cursed," but this weekend Berlin Brandenburg Airport (or Willy Brandt Airport) finally opened following years of setbacks.
This weekend, as Germany entered its second national lockdown of the year, the airport finally became operational. It comes 14 years after construction began in 2006, and nine years after it was originally due to open in 2012, after major structural issues and problems conspired to delay its opening.
These include changes in management, failed fire and safety inspections and bankruptcy of a construction partner. Add to this, accusations of fraud and corruption, not to mention a raft of architectural, structural and technical problems, and the whole project ended up being horribly delayed.
It also went massively over-budget, ballooning from a projected budget of approximately €2.83bn ($3.1bn) to €7.3bn ($8bn). Plans for the new airport date back to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, when the country's leaders discussed constructing a new airport, hoping that it would become a state-of-the-art transportation hub that would attract long-haul travellers.
There are two other airports in Berlin at present - Schönefeld Airport and Tegel Airport.. They are both somewhat outdated, and Tegel, which is currently the city's main international airport, is due to close a week soon, with all of its operations moving to the new airport. It is anticipated that up to 60,000 additional jobs will be created in the region triggered by the opening of the new airport.
Here's a timelapse of what the construction site has looked like over the years:
The international hub will connect Berlin and the surrounding region to more long-haul destinations. But with the air travel industry under threat from the coronavirus pandemic, and the opening weekend greeted by protests from climate change activists, there still might be setbacks ahead for the long-awaited airport.
This article was first published on December 14, 2019 and updated on November 2, 2020.