What You Need To Know About Berlin’s ‘Cursed’ New Airport


The Berlin region’s new international airport was supposed to be a symbol of German unity and engineering prowess as the country came together after nearly half a century divided.

But instead, the new hub called BER — which will finally open on Saturday after nine years of delays and technical failures — has become an embarrassing dent in Germany’s reputation for efficiency.

Here are key facts about the mishap-prone project.

Symbol of Reunification

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, city authorities wanted a new airport to be a symbol of a country reunited after decades of the Cold War.

Aside from the technical BER initials, the airport carries the name of the former West German Chancellor Willy Brandt, who opened relations with the eastern bloc in the early 1970s.

At reunification in 1990, the German capital had three middle-ranking airports — Tegel and Tempelhof in the west and Schoenefeld in the former communist east.

In 1996, local and national authorities began drawing up plans for a new airport fit to rival international hubs such as Frankfurt and Munich, with a planned opening date of 2011.

Tempelhof, known for its huge Nazi-era canopy, closed in 2008 — the runways and airfield have since been converted into a massive city park — while the other two airports remained in service.

Faults and Scandals

In 2010, the first signs of turbulence appeared. Project managers said stricter European aviation safety regulations and the bankruptcy of a planning company meant they had to delay the opening by a year.

From then on, the opening was repeatedly postponed.

In 2012, construction was suddenly halted after a fire safety system was found to be defective.

An inauguration ceremony planned only a few weeks later with Chancellor Angela Merkel was hastily cancelled.

In 2016, things took a sinister turn when prosecutors investigated the alleged poisoning of a whistleblower who had called out corruption on the project.

Faulty lighting systems, escalators that were too short, not enough space for lucrative shopping outlets… the project was dogged by one issue after another.

Costs Take Off

The airport’s price tag had rocketed from 1.7 billion euros ($2 billion) to more than 6.5 billion euros ($7.6 billion) by 2020, bringing an extra burden on a city already heavily in debt.

Once popular former mayor Klaus Wowereit — who coined the “poor but sexy” catchphrase that became Berlin’s moniker in the early 2000s — was one of the project’s most high-profile casualties.

As chairman of the airport’s supervisory board, he was blamed for cost overruns and later resigned over what he considered his “biggest failure” after 13 years in power.

Airport executives and local media began speaking of a “cursed” project.

Local Opposition

In a referendum organised by locals in 2017, Berliners voted to keep open Tegel, known for its unconventional hexagonal design and ease of travel. Aircraft gates were just steps from the terminal entrances but its facilities eventually became cramped and outdated.

The vote highlighted the attachment Berliners have to the airport, built-in 90 days with Europe’s longest runway in 1948 as the Soviets blockaded road and rail into the western sector.

But authorities stuck to the plan and confirmed the closure of Tegel for late 2020. The area will be converted into an office park, with the terminal buildings forming part of a university for applied sciences.

Opening in a Pandemic

The explosion of tourism and cheap flights of the last decade caused authorities to think Berlin Brandenburg had been designed too small.

The hub was to have a capacity of 27 million passengers a year, increasing to 33 million with the opening of a second terminal a few years later.

Yet in 2019, 35 million passed through Berlin’s two airports.

Authorities decided that Schoenefeld, the unloved communist-era airport next to the new site, will continue to operate as BER’s Terminal 5.

At the end of 2019, project managers announced that the new airport would finally open in 2020.

With aviation traffic into Berlin down 70 per cent this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, at least capacity will be one less thing for the operators to worry about.

Tripoli Airport Clashes Kill Nine

FILE PHOTO of security forces in Tripoli.

Nine people were killed on Monday when militiamen attacked the Libyan capital’s international airport, the unity government’s health ministry said.

“Initial toll following the fighting on the perimeter of Mitiga airport: five dead at Mitiga hospital and four dead at the cardiac surgery hospital in Tajura. The number of wounded will be communicated later”, the ministry said on Facebook.

It was not immediately clear whether those killed were civilians or fighters.

The fighting erupted when an as yet unidentified militia attacked the facility in a bid to free colleagues detained at a jail there, a force loyal to the unity government said earlier.


Abuja Airport Closure: Amaechi, Sirika Appear Before Senate

Abuja Airport Closure: Amaechi, Sirika Appear Before SenateThe Minister of State for Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika and the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi have appeared before the Senate to explain the reason for the planned closure of the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport Abuja.

The Senate invited both ministers on Tuesday to explain the reason for the closure and rather explore other options besides closing the airport.

Lawmakers are opposing the closure of the airport which they say would bring hardship on local and international travellers.

The Minister of State for Aviation Hadi Sirika, explained that to continue to operate, the Abuja airport will be unsafe and unreasonable as there are daily incidents on the runway.

Captain Sirika said that every flight plan always have alternate landing routes and Kaduna has always been the alternate for Abuja airport.

He also pointed out that most of the sections of the runway have collapsed and if multiple sections have collapsed, it means the entire runway has collapsed.

The runway in the Abuja airport was constructed in 1982 with a lifespan of 14 years which had been exceeded.

FG Commits To Closing Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport

Nnamdi Azikiwe International AirportThe Nigerian Government has restated its resolve to shut down the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja from March 8.

The government also reassured international and local airline operators, as well as air travellers of adequate security at the Kaduna airport.

The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, made the assertion on Thursday at a special stakeholders’ meeting on the temporary closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.

He emphasised the importance of the closure, pointing out the security and safety measures put in place to ease air transportation to and from Kaduna airport.

The Minister, who addressed all the concerns raised by the stakeholders, said that the closing of the airport was a painful decision taken in the interest of all stakeholders.

He said that the Federal Government remained committed to the safety of air travellers, stressing that the airport runway would be rehabilitated within six weeks.

In their separate remarks, the chairmen of Airline Operators of Nigeria and international airline operators, Mr Noggie Maggison and Mr Osho Joseph, expressed objections over the closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.

The British Deputy High Commissioner, Harriet Thompson, also raised concerns about the movement of passengers from Abuja to Kaduna.

The runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport was built in 1982 with a life span of 20 years.

Fourteen years after its lifespan expired, the airstrip has been adjudged unsafe for air travellers.

House Of Reps Wants More Air Power for Nigerian Air Force


The lawmakers say the NAF needs more funding for operational duties
The lawmakers say the NAF needs more funding for operational and tactical duties.

The House of Representatives says more provisions will be made for the Nigerian Air Force in the 2017 budget to acquire more air power.

This is according to the chairman of the House of Representatives committee on Air Force, Samson Okwu on Tuesday when the committee visited the 97 special operations group in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

The committee which was constituted in accordance with section 62(1) of the 1999 constitution to over see the Air Force including its budget estimates, is on a nationwide oversight tour to ascertain the welfare and operational capacity of the Nigerian Air Force.

In recognition of such need to equip the force, President Muhammadu Buhari on October 10, transferred two Ballistics defence capabilities aircraft from his presidential fleet to the Nigerian Air Force.

The handover took place at the Presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshall Abubakar while taking receipt of the aircraft says one of them will be used by the NAF as an air ambulance while the second one will be used convey troops.

Plane Crash Kills 40 In South Sudan

Plane Crash Kills 40 In South SudanAt least 40 people have died in a plane crash near the international airport in Juba, South Sudan’s capital.

Reports say around 40 bodies were counted at the plane wreck site.

The spokesman to the President, Ateny Wek Ateny, told Reuters that there were at least two survivors, a crew member and a child on board.

It is however unclear how many of those were on the plane and how many were on the ground.

Local media reports say the aircraft was a cargo plane heading to Paloch in Upper Nile State and crashed just 800 metres from the runway.

The plane came down on the east bank of the nearby River Nile.

Volcanic Eruption Forces Indonesia To Close 5 Airports

indonesiaA volcanic eruption in Indonesia has led to the closure of five airports including the tourist Hotspot Bali.

Mount Raung in east java has been spewing ash into the air for nearly a week, obscuring visibility at Bali’s Denpasar airport.

For a second day, many flights between Bali and Australia have been cancelled, leaving several travelers stranded.

The island is a top holiday destination for Australians.

A spokesperson for State Airport Operator, Angkasa Pura said, Denpasar would be closed until late hours of the day.

However, Indonesian transport ministry official Ja Barata, said the re-opening of the airports would be based on the activity on Mount Raung, which is about 120km (75 miles) from Denpasar airport.

The four other affected airports are the International Airport in Lombok, Selaparang Airport also in Lombok, Blimbingsari Airport in Banyuwangi, East Java and Notohadinegoro Airport in Jember, East Java.

Scores of flights have been postponed indefinitely or cancelled by airlines, including Jetstar and Virgin Australia who have halted all flights in and out of Denpasar Airport.

Panel Submits Report On Destruction Of BRT Buses On Ikorodu Rd

fasholaLagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN) on Monday promised to act on the recommendations of the report of the Tribunal of Enquiry on the Road Traffic Accident, Arson and Vandalism on BRT buses at Palmgrove, along Ikorodu Road.

Mr Fashola, who spoke at Lagos House, Ikeja explained that the report would still have to go through council deliberations and debates.

He stated that there is no Tribunal of Enquiry or Commission that the State Government has set up in the past whose report has not been developed into a White Paper report.

Fashola also stated that a White Paper on the report of the Tribunal of Enquiry would be issued which would communicate what government decisions on the recommendations are and the actions that would follow.

The Governor also stressed that the protection of life and property remains the principal duty for which governments exist and that whenever such unfortunate incidents occur, government must do everything to ensure that they do not reoccur.

Speaking earlier while presenting the report, which is in eight volumes, the Chairman of the Commission, Justice Ebenezer Adebajo, said the Tribunal has recommended an upgrading of the Lagos Area Metropolitan Transport Authority (LAMATA) and further empower it to effectively carry out its regulatory functions in relation to transportation in Lagos State.

He added that the Governor of Lagos State should demand an apology from the Nigerian Army and that the Nigerian Army should on behalf of the 9th Brigade, Ikeja Cantonment, apologize in writing to the people of Lagos State and that such apology should be published in at least two national newspapers in order to reduce the constant friction between the military and the bus operators.


Lagos Airport Transport Operators Protest

Lagos AirportAirport workers were on Thursday stranded along the Murtala Muhammed International Airport road as limousine and cab operators protested their displacement from the space they were allocated at the Lagos airport six months ago.

The cab and limousine operators said that they would not operate at the Lagos airport until officials of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), address issues bordering on their operations at the international terminal.

Meanwhile the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria has appealed to the taxi operators to exercise patience, insisting that this inconvenience is being experienced because of the remodelling project ongoing at the Lagos airport.

The General Manager, Corporate Communications, Mr Yakubu Dati, said that once the remodelling exercise is complete, the taxi operators will have enough room.

Analyst Commends Social Media For Exposing Police Extortion

A Public Affairs Analyst, Chima Nnaji, has commended the social media and its users for enabling the exposure of corrupt practices in the society.

“Thank God for social media,” he said, while speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily on Thursday.

The dismissal of a sergeant, Chris Omeleze, who was caught on film trying to extort money from a motorist in Lagos, has caused a stir and has raised several questions about the credibility of the Nigeria Police.

Mr Nnaji, while commenting on the issue said that the video which went viral online is the reason the Nigeria Police could not sweep it under the carpet and as a result “the best thing was to dispense with this guy.”

A recent development in the story is the revelation that Osugwor Festus and not Chris Omeleze is his real name.

A source, who chose to remain annonymous, said that the “real name of the dismissed policeman is not Chris Omeleze. His real name is Osugwor Festus from Umuseti in Ndokwa West LGA of Delta state. He was classmates with Chris Omeleze… They attended Ndemili Grammar school and finished in 1987.”

Reacting to this, Mr Nnaji raised several questions including why the police officer chose the name of that particular classmate, how long has he been using it and for what purpose?”

What name did he use in enlisting in the Police force, he asked.

The Public Relations Officer of the Police Force, Mr Frank Mba confirmed that the sergeant has been dismissed from the force.

Mr Nnaji argued that the PPRO was hasty in concluding that there was no senior officer involved in the illegal act.

“Many Nigerians know that bribery is not just something at the level of sergeants and corporals. We have DPO’s, higher ranking officers” who have engaged in corrupt practices.

He however said that not every police officer is corrupt.

“The first thing would have been to establish whether this guy was acting on somebody’s instruction or supervision. Was he in a team?” he asked.

Some police officers create illegal checkpoints because they have arms.

He urged Nigerians to use technology at their disposal to record such incidences, in order to correct social ills.