After finally opening in October 2020 following years of delays, the operator of Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt airport expects a further five-year wait until pre-pandemic passenger levels return and has warned of the need for continued shareholder support to offset lost revenues.

Average daily passengers handled by Berlin Brandenburg airport of around 7,500 in the first weeks of January are roughly 10% of the levels recorded at the same stage last year. At that point the city was served by Schoenefeld and Tegel airports, before the newly consolidated Berlin Brandenburg facility opened.

Berlin Brandenburg airport opening

Source: Berlin Brandenburg airport

Press conference marking the opening of Berlin’s much delayed Brandenburg airport on 31 October 2020

Airport operator Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg expects passenger levels to reach 10.7 million this year, less than a third of the 35.7 million handled by the city’s two airports in 2019.

While it foresees a best-case scenario under which it could recover to these levels in 2023 - and by 2027 under a worst-case development - it is basing its business plan on projections that it will return to pre-pandemic passenger numbers in 2025.

“If this forecast is correct, a total of around 83 million fewer passengers than originally assumed would fly from Berlin Brandenburg between 2021 and 2025. This is accompanied by considerable economic losses,” Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg says following a supervisory board meeting today.

While it outlines several savings initiatives, including postponing expansion investments and the temporary closure of Terminal 5, it warns this will not be enough to offset lost revenues resulting from the lower traffic levels.

”This is why Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg is dependent on renewed support from its shareholders and partial debt relief to maintain its capital market viability,” it says.

Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg chairman Rainer Bretschneider says, ”So far we have been satisfied with operations at Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt airport. The processes run stably and play well, if you disregard the usual teething problems of a major structural project.”

”Unfortunately, the economic situation at airports in Germany is still very critical due to the pandemic and a recovery is currently not in sight. Therefore, after the commissioning, the focus is now on the finances and thus the economic activity of the company,” he adds.

The airport’s chief executive Engelbert Lutke Daldrup adds: “The airport company therefore does not expect air traffic to recover to pre-crisis levels until 2025. We as a company will make every effort to work as cheaply as possible until then. We will have to cope with painful cuts.

”Until we have reached the pre-Corona level, we will continue to rely on the support of our shareholders.”