A new airport for Berlin and Brandenburg

Posted: 10 June 2005 | Thomas Weyer, Managing Director Engineering / BBI | No comments yet

Berlin’s Schönefeld Airport has been host of the ILA since 1992 and is currently Germany’s boom airport. As of 2006 it is being expanded to become the new capital city airport – Berlin Brandenburg International (BBI).

Berlin’s Schönefeld Airport has been host of the ILA since 1992 and is currently Germany’s boom airport. As of 2006 it is being expanded to become the new capital city airport – Berlin Brandenburg International (BBI).

The stage has been set for the future – in the coming years Schönefeld Airport will be expanded to become the capital’s new Airport. The official construction permit and the financing concept are completed and detailed planning and preparations for construction are being made. The Bundesverwaltungsgericht (the German Administrative Court) has announced a final decision on the suit about the expansion of the airport for the first half of 2006. As of 2011, according to planning, the entire air traffic for the Berlin-Brandenburg region will be concentrated at the airport in the southeast of the city. The inner-city airports Tegel and Tempelhof will be closed as a result.

The BBI concept is for a modern airport with short distances with the terminal located between two parallel runways. BBI will not be a ‘gold-plated glamour airport’, but a new generation airport. The airport will be inexpensive and functional, have short transfer times with clear lines and be very modern and cosmopolitan with modern industrial architecture. BBI will be able to provide business travellers, tourists and companies with an airport that offers the best connections, international flights, it’s own freeway connection, a train station directly below the terminal and transfer times of only 30 minutes. Gate positions, runways, taxiways are sized so that even modern jumbo aircraft such as the new Airbus A 380 will have no problem being handled by BBI (Ed: for more information on the ground handling of the A380).

A starting capacity of more than 20 million passengers is planned for 2011 and depending on passenger development, the airport can be expanded for up to 40 million passengers. This means that the Berlin-Brandenburg region will be provided with the capacity it requires for the coming decades.

Stepping stone to the east

The perspective is clear – BBI is intended to be a second-level hub; an airport whose competitors will be more along the lines of Vienna, Copenhagen and Munich than mega-hubs such as Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam and Paris. Berlin’s airports traditionally have a strong focus toward eastern Europe. With the expansion of the EU to the east this tendency has been reinforced. In addition, there is the strategic advantage of a good location in the centre of Europe – flight times to eastern Europe and Asia are one hour less than the established hubs in the west.

Travel times to downtown Berlin will also be just 20 minutes with the Airport Shuttle and on the freeway around 30 minutes. Plans are for BBI Berlin to be the European capital with the shortest distance to an international airport. Furthermore, along with the attractive airport connections BBI will also have a broad non-aviation offering. In addition to shops and restaurants an airport center is planned. Here the passengers and airport visitors will find large shopping areas, cafés, bars, restaurants, hotels and conference centres.

The construction preparations are currently being made and the general planning for essential airport areas such as the terminal is underway. The contracts for the runways and taxiways have already been awarded. Subsequently the 300 inhabitants of the village Diepensee have already been resettled, the old village has been demolished for the most part and archeologists are already digging for findings. Actual construction is planned to commence after the final decision of the Bundesverwaltungsgericht is made in the first half of 2006.

Safeguarding competitiveness

BBI is the decisive infrastructure project for the capital city region. Even in the era of the Internet and e-mail, the quick transportation of persons and goods throughout the world is a decisive factor for the competitiveness of a region. The total number of employee’s at Berlin’s Airports is currently 33,600 working places. By 2012 the completion of BBI will have the effect of significantly improving the value of the location, primarily through the increasing number of passengers and with the additional purchasing power effects it is foreseen that about 39,400 new jobs will be created in the region. The total employment effect of BBI will therefore be 73,000 jobs in 2012. This figure was taken from the latest jobs survey of the Berlin Airports and a study performed by the Cologne transportation researcher Prof. Dr. Herbert Baum.

As a result of the increasing international interweaving of business and the growing amount of business-related travel, the importance of a high quality offering of flight connections is increasing. The availability of highly specialised employees, quick access, personal communication and scientific and creative exchange are decisive advantages for the capital city region in the competition for innovation. With BBI, Berlin will be strengthened as a location for trade fairs and congresses.

Even today the expansion of the airport is acting as an economic engine for the region. Numerous companies from the field are already setting up shop around Schönefeld and creating jobs in future industries. Pilots from more than 60 airlines around the world train in the Lufthansa Flight Simulator. In the Schönefeld Lufthansa hangars more than 300 employees inspect aircraft with a fine-tooth comb. About 250 employees in the Schönefeld Lufthansa Call Center respond to customer calls. At the time of writing a number of freight forwarders are already using Schönefeld Airport as a stepping stone to the east.

BBI – the green airport

The concentration of Berlin’s air traffic at only one site provides a positive overall ecological balance compared to the current, artificially divided airport system – both from the amount of space required as well as the noise and traffic levels. The inner-city airports Tegel and Tempelhof will be closed when BBI opens. By moving the air traffic to the edge of the city, more than 100,000 Berliner and Brandenburgers will be permanently relieved from aircraft noise. The Schönefeld inhabitants will be sufficiently protected by means of the conditions in the Planning Stipulation Decision. For instance, for the period between 2200 and 0600 only quiet Chapter IV aircraft will be permitted to fly.

The general ecological concept for BBI takes extensive additional environmental measures into consideration. They range from landscape and water protection to the investigation of prior contamination to the waste concept. A long list of compensation and replacement measures are incorporated into the framework of the Schönefeld expansion. For instance, new trees will be planted for every tree which is cut down, for every space sealed a compensation will be made. Furthermore, biotope monitoring should assure that impairments are avoided around the airport during the construction period.

International transparency

With the planning and construction of BBI Berlin Airports are preventing corruption by means of independent, external monitoring. The Berlin Airports and the independent organisation Transparency International Deutschland e.V. have jointly developed an integrity agreement to prevent corruption and illegal agreements in the expansion of Schönefeld Airport to become Berlin Brandenburg International BBI. The integrity agreement is a fixed component in the contracting process for the selection of suppliers, construction companies, planning, engineering and consulting companies. It is valid for the entire duration of the contracts.

Thomas Weyer

Thomas Weyer has been the managing director engineering / BBI since 2004. Previous to this he worked for Hochtief, where he worked on projects including the UK – Europe Channel Tunnel Rail Link. He has also been business unit manager at Düsseldorf Airport and was managing director of Berlin Brandenbeg International Partner GmbH & Co. Kg, Berlin- Schönefeld. He studied at Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule, Aachen (Technical University) where he gained Construction Engineering, Dipl.-Ing. and has also studied marketing and finance at the University of Evansville, USA and business administration at Dunquesne University, Pittsburgh, USA.

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