CEO calls for large cash injection to save Berlin Brandenburg Airport
Coronavirus has had a disastrous effect on Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER). The long-awaited airport only opened last year, just as travel restrictions came to force and air traffic came to a resounding halt. Now, the airport needs money to avoid bankruptcy.
German airport CEO calls for investment
“We need money quickly, we need cash,” said Aletta von Massenbach, CEO of airport operator Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg Gmbh (FBB), to reporters over the weekend. Berlin Brandenburg Airport is facing bankruptcy after losing the majority of its traffic-related income, as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
According to Massenbach, the FBB should have enough funds to continue its operations until the first quarter of 2022 but also faces clearing a big debt in February. “It’s very bitter for us to need so much money for BER,” admitted von Massenbach, who assumed her role as CEO at the beginning of October. “There is no plan B.”
The operator's public owners - the federal government and states of Berlin and Brandenburg - have pledged to swell the coffers by 2,4 billion euros by 2026. The airport has only been open for a year, finally beginning operations on October 31, 2020.
The BER curse
The Berlin Brandenburg Airport has been repeatedly referred to as cursed. Numerous building and financial problems arose during construction, causing the airport to be delayed by nine years, having previously been slated to open in October 2011. The airport has so far cost around six billion euros, three times over the planned budget. On top of this, even before the airport opened its doors, Germany’s Federal Finance Secretary was forced to ask for the budget committee in the Bundestag for a cash injection of 300 million euros to ensure the airport's liquidity in 2020.
The airport's problems didn’t cease once it began operations either. At the beginning of this year, the Verdi trade union called for Terminal 1 to be closed after several employees reportedly received electric shocks from the x-ray machines at security. The shocks were so strong in some cases that some employees even had to be taken to hospital and placed on sick leave.
More recently, passengers have complained about missing their flights due to long check-in queues, which were apparently caused by a lack of staff. Newspapers have also reported on the poor state of the airport, citing problems such as overflowing bins, damaged floors and broken escalators. The airport management team is due to submit proposals aimed at tackling the ongoing problems, with von Massenbach also scheduled to meet with Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer.