Brandenburg to start limited test operations in July

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Berlin’s airport operator is planning to open the German capital’s long-delayed flagship hub in 2015 and start limited operations in the terminal’s northern pier in July 2014.

Hartmut Mehdorn, chief executive of the airport operator Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg, has told the German parliament’s transport committee that the greenfield terminal complex is to open completely in 2015, although he did not specify an inauguration date during the session, held on 29 January.

While a reliable target date is apparently not yet clear, Mehdorn says there will be no further delay once an opening date has been released.

Limited airline operations with “two or three” departures a day are due to begin in the northern pier in July, a parliament release says. FBB has previously stated that such test operations could comprise up to 10 flights a day.

The trial will create additional costs of €5 million ($6.8 million). But Mehdorn says those expenses would be quickly amortised as the trial would help to accelerate the main terminal’s opening. The phase is aimed at testing a number of systems, such as the IT network, ahead of the airport’s full inauguration.

Costs for the delayed opening currently run at €17 million a month, Mehdorn revealed.

The airport is installing a “totally new” smoke-extraction system into the terminal after the building had been essentially completed, he says. “We have not proceeded with that as quickly as we had imagined,” he adds.

The airport was due to open in June 2012, but FBB called off the planned inauguration in May over concerns about the terminal’s fire-protection and smoke-extraction systems.