The opening of Berlin's new airport has been delayed a further seven months to October 27 next year, authorities said on Friday, about two years later than originally planned after a series of setbacks to the project.
Nearly a quarter of a century after the Berlin Wall came down and 13 years after the government moved back to Berlin as the unified capital, Germany is still struggling to open an international airport to replace two from its Cold War past.
A scheduled opening of Berlin-Brandenburg Airport on June 3 this year was scrapped just weeks before due to problems with fire safety systems. Airport authorities then aimed for a date of March 17, 2013, but even this became unrealistic given the need for fresh planning and testing.
"It was terrible to see how much was lacking," the airport's technical director Horst Amann, who took office last month, told a news conference on Friday.
The airport authorities also said on Friday the project would cost EUR€4.2 billion (USD$5.38 billion), EUR€1.2 billion more than last estimated.
The delays have been a headache for Germany's second-biggest airline Air Berlin in particular, which plans to use the new airport as a hub for intercontinental flights.
The airport aims to attract up to 27 million passengers a year initially, making it about half the size of Germany's main airport in Frankfurt.
The saga surrounding the airport has tarnished the image of Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit, a Social Democrat, who sits on its board.
Wowereit, known for his charismatic smile and popular touch, has governed Berlin since 2001. Germany's first openly gay politician, he won re-election for a third term last September.
He gave the city its slogan "poor but sexy", and helped lure film and music companies, overseeing the transformation of Berlin from cold war outpost to bohemian hotspot for culture, night life and affordable living.
Gravity always wins!