For many decades to come, 2020 will be inextricably linked with the global corona pandemic. For the airport company and the capital region, 2020 also stands for another, equally decisive and thoroughly gratifying event: On October 31, 2020, the new Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt Airport opened its doors. Finally, the phases of construction disasters and years of toil came to a happy end. Berlin and Brandenburg received their new gateway to the world.
The road to opening BER was marked by important steps, particularly in 2020: the start of trial operation at the beginning of the year, approval for the construction site by the authorities in April, 10,000 extras testing the airport, the train station trial run and cleaning in August are just some examples. On November 8, the airport company bid farewell to Tegel Airport with the departure of the last Air France aircraft.
Photos and videos of some of the highlights from 2020 can be found on the following pages.
The pictures are still fondly remembered: people in bright green vests pull wheeled suitcases behind them and explore the new airport. From early summer onwards, the trial run with a total of 10,000 volunteers brought a hitherto unfamiliar hustle and bustle to the new Terminal 1. It wasn’t just Berliners and Brandenburgers who were curious about the trip, visitors from all over Germany also took time out to experience the “airport adventure”. The trial operation showed that the new airport was well received despite its previous history! This was down not least to the successful preparations before commissioning. Employees of the airport company and its partners have been trained in the new processes since the beginning of the year. The corona pandemic brought additional challenges. Hygiene regulations had to be implemented, and processes had to be changed again and again. Nevertheless, everything remained within the time frame. At the end of April, all official approvals were in place, Terminal 1 was no longer a construction site. In the weeks that followed, the large train station exercise or cleaning with detectors and sniffer dogs followed, and the rehearsals with real aircraft should not be forgotten either. On October 31, BER was able to open as planned.
Terminal 1 at BER went into operation on October 31, 2020. It was an important day that employees, shareholders and the public have been waiting for a long time. With the opening of BER, all air traffic in the German capital region was concentrated in one location. To mark the opening of Berlin Brandenburg Airport, an aircraft from both easyJet and Lufthansa landed. Both airlines were welcomed in an official ceremony, and regular flight operations began on the evening of October 31. All taking into account the restrictions that the corona pandemic brings with it, of course. The opening of the T1 was not the only step on the way to full commissioning. On the night of October 24, the former Schönefeld Airport became Terminal 5 of BER. On October 30th, the namesake of the new airport in the capital was honoured with a ceremonial unveiling of the Willy Brandt wall in Terminal 1. And on November 4, the southern runway of BER opened with the landing of Qatar Airways flight QR81 from Doha.
The water fountains from the airport fire brigade had barely dried up when the Airbus AF1235 from Berlin-Tegel to Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle said goodbye behind the clouds on November 8. Shortly afterwards the lights went out: Berlin-Tegel Airport “Otto Lilienthal” became history. What remains, however, are the many memories of a very special place. Whether it's a cherry bomber during the Berlin Airlift, the style-defining architecture of the 1970s or the return of the champion’s aircraft carrying the football World Cup in their luggage: the memory of Tegel will endure forever. Farewell TXL!
Berlin Brandenburg Airport Willy Brandt got off to a safe start - despite all the challenges posed by the global corona pandemic. The first few months after opening have shown that the new airport has proven itself to be efficient and reliable. The technical systems and handling processes are running stably and guarantee a high level of safety - even with ice and snow. Smaller process disruptions could be resolved rapidly. While the necessary adjustments to implement the strict social distance and hygiene rules were implemented quickly. But that's not the only thing: BER also receives positive feedback from travellers on facilities, service and cleanliness. Many people from Berlin and Brandenburg also used the first few weeks to get a feel of their new airport. Unfortunately, one thing is missing to really bring BER to life: millions of passengers flying all over the world who, under normal conditions, would have used the new airport from Day 1. It was only possible to process around 9 million travellers through Berlin in 2020, in the record-breaking year of 2019 this number was over 35 million. The recovery in passenger numbers is still very gradual. But with the end of the corona pandemic, BER will finally be able to assume its key role in Berlin-Brandenburg: as an airport for the capital region and an important engine for economic recovery.