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Aviation

New Berlin airport delay costs millions each month

Delays in the opening of Berlin's new international aviation hub are costing tens of millions of euros each month, the airport chief has told the Transport Ministry. A new inauguration date will be named by August.

The latest of altogether four delays in the opening of the German capital's new international airport was costing up to 40 million euros ($52.5 million) every month, airport chief Hartmut Mehdorn told officials at the Transport Ministry in Berlin.

The German business daily "Handelsblatt" said extra money was being spent on maintenance at the new BER aviation hub as well as on Mehdorn's construction program called "Sprint" and modernization work at the old Berlin Tegel airport which has to be kept open much longer than originally envisaged.

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The new airport has so far been delayed four times for technical reasons, including an insufficient fire protection system.

Not everything at once

So far, officials put the overall costs of the new hub at 4.3 billion euros. But if the airport is not opened before the end of next year, spending looks set to soar well beyond 5 billion euros. The "Handelsblatt" business newspaper quoted Mehdorn as saying a new opening date will be chosen in July or August of this year.

Mehdorn, the former head of Air Berlin and Deutsche Bahn, was quoted as saying operations at the new hub would start bit by bit. "We don't have to move everything there on one day," he said. "We'll get the airport off the ground step by step."

He also once again backed the closing of the Tegel airport at a much later stage. "Tegel is currently the airport we earn good money with," he said, arguing that he saw no reason to shut it down the very moment the new hub went into operation.

hg/hc (dpa, AFP)

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