Berlin Airport closes new terminal amid passenger plunge
Berlin’s old Schönefeld Airport was converted into Terminal 5 of the new BER airport. However, the coronavirus pandemic has meant far fewer travelers.
Berlin’s newly-opened BER airport will close one of its terminals on Monday due to a sharp fall in passenger numbers caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The closure is another blow to the airport, the construction of which took nine years longer than planned and which went three times over budget.
BER has become infamous for planning incompetence, mismanagement and corruption allegations after a string of scandals and mishaps.
When it finally opened in October, passenger demand was expected to outstrip the newly built capacity — prompting the rebranding of the nearby aging Schönefeld Airport as Terminal 5 of the new airport.
Schönefeld was built in then-East Germany in 1976. The airport was meant to be demolished to create a new government terminal. But after construction delays, it was repurposed and put back into use until the completion of a planned Terminal 3 in 2030.
However, with the coronavirus pandemic cutting passenger numbers, authorities have decided to shutter the terminal until further notice.
Terminal may reopen
“We’re initially closing for a year, then we’ll decide again,” said airport spokesperson Hannes Stefan Hönemann. “If things go well, we’ll open the terminal again.”
Passenger numbers in 2020 were just one-quarter of the previous year, according to airport operators.
A vaccination center that has been set up in the terminal will remain functional, and public transport links will continue.
The closure will save airport operators about €25 million ($30 million), according to a statement.