Berlin Brandenburg airport delayed until 17 March

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The opening of the future Berlin Brandenburg airport has been postponed until 17 March 2013 due to delays in completing the fire protection system and a range of other installations.

The airport operator says that Manfred Körtgen, managing director for operations and construction, will step down following the second major delay at the capital's new hub. It will also end the contract with its project management firm, comprising the terminal's architects and engineers.

Berlin Brandenburg's operating company revealed last week that it could not open the new complex on the southern side of the existing Schönefled airport on 3 June as planned, adding that the move will be postponed until "after the summer".

The firm says it knew that the "ambitious" fire protection system would not be completed and fully automated by June. The company had decided to "temporarily" accept the system as a "partly automated version" and complete it "in the months following the terminal's opening".

However, "this time-saving option is not available anymore" after a letter by the building standards authority on 9 May, the airport operator notes. The letter stated that "interim measures, such as the man-machine interface [of the protection system], will not lead to success".

The outstanding installation of the fire protection system will take until December. However, to avoid potential further delays as a result of moving the airport operations in winter conditions, the supervisory board under Berlin's mayor Klaus Wowereit decided last night (16 May) to defer the opening until 17 March 2013.

This will also provide more time for further test runs and system checks.

The supervisory board criticised the project management's risk assessment strategy and concluded that delays in the fire protection system installation had been "underestimated".

But other building works were also delayed, leading to a "strained situation on the construction site", according to the airport operator. Work on a number of projects continued while the terminal was undergoing test runs, the company says, and builders tapped into electricty supplies without authorisation, which led to check-in facility break-downs during the test runs.

The airport operator adds that "individual" systems, especially regarding data and safety technology such as local area networks and door controls, are not yet "sufficiently stable".