Flying to/from Berlin, Germany has a new look as long-delayed Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt (BER) opened to commercial flights on November 1, 2020. That is almost a decade after the scheduled opening in 2011.
Brandenburg will be the sole airport serving the German capital and the state of Brandenburg. The new airport will be a hub for easyJet, Ryanair and Eurowings and serve major international airlines as well.
Named for Willy Brandt, the former German Chancellor and West Berlin mayor, Brandenburg airport replaces Tegel Airport and former East Berlin’s Schönefeld Airport. Locating Brandenburg at the site of East Berlin’s airport and naming it for Willy Brandt might be viewed as spiking the ball on the defeated communists.
The airport consists of three terminals. Terminals 1 and 2 are newly constructed facilities. Terminal 5 is the old but refurbished Schönefeld terminal, which is located on the opposite side of the runway complex from Terminal 1 and 2.
Terminal 1 is the main terminal and the only one open now due to low passenger traffic because of the pandemic. When passenger volume picks up Terminal 2 will be dedicated to low-cost carriers. Terminal 5, the location for Ryanair, will be connected to the other terminals by shuttle buses and the S-Bahn rail system.
Currently, Brandenburg has only one lounge open. The Tempelhof Lounge is a Priority Pass Lounge that is named for Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport that was the city’s lifeline during the Berlin Airlift during the Cold War. Tempelhof closed in 2008.
Construction delays, which occurred for an array of reasons, pushed the cost of the airport from roughly €3 billion ($3.5 billion) to just over €10 billion ($11.66 billion). Yikes! That is an expensive airport. And it won’t be utilized fully for many months to come.
Brandenburg Airport is a most welcome addition as Tegel Airport (TXL), Berlin’s main international airport, was woefully lacking in the type of facilities to be expected in the airport serving the capital of Germany. I flew to TXL in 2018 on a KLM 737 in business class thanks to an upgrade certificate from KLM partner Delta Air Lines. It was shocking how bad that airport was. It almost made New York Laguardia Airport look good.
Congratulations to Berlin and Germany for the opening of what should be Europe’s most modern major airport. I have no current plans for a trip to Berlin, but may have to put it on my list of places to go just to see this new airport.