Berlin expects Brandenburg costs to overrun by a third

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Berlin's airport operator estimates the cost overruns for the city's new hub at around €1.2 billion ($1.5 billion), but says that the figure may still change depending on the final opening date.

Whether the German capital's new hub can open on 17 March 2013 - the latest target date after the inauguration was delayed from 3 June this year - is not yet clear. Chief operating officer Horst Amann said after yesterday's supervisory board meeting that the management is still "evaluating the feasibility" of the March opening with internal and external construction experts.

Berlin Brandenburg airport wants to provide "clarity" about the opening date at the next supervisory board meeting in mid-September.

This should also provide a clearer picture on the cost overruns. The operator says that the current estimate of €1.177 billion includes "a number of unknowns", which depend on the opening date, and that the final amount could change.

The estimate comprises €586 million in costs directly related to the delay and €591 million to insulate houses in the airport's vicinity against noise. The additional costs exceed the former €3.1 billion budget by more than a third.

This is to be funded through the airport's own capital, bridging loans from banks and direct loans from the three shareholders - the city of Berlin, state of Brandenburg, and federal government. But further financial support from the public sector will require approval by the European Commission in Brussels.

A spokesman for the airport operator says the costs to insulate homes against noise are likely to be lower than the estimated €591 million. This was based on the assumption that noise should never exceed a maximum level of 55dB, while permanent noise levels must stay below 45dB.

The company had previously filed an application to allow noise levels to exceed 55dB up to six times a day. But this has been withdrawn in favour of one excess of 55dB in two days.