Opening of Berlin's new Brandenburg International Airport is being pushed back by seven months, to June 2012, in order to ensure its security facilities comply with new European Union requirements.

Operator Berliner Flughafen has opted to construct two new security-screening pavilions, and cut back the initial number of security lines, to meet the new timetable.

While the changes will require additional investment of €50 million ($61 million) to cover the new work, and the delay will mean a €26 million income shortfall, the operator says that budgetary "reallocations" and use of reserves mean the original funding requirement will "remain unchanged".

The opening for the airport - built on the Berlin Schonefeld site and intended to be a single hub for the German capital - had originally been scheduled for October 2011.

But the airport's planners determined that the new EU regulations, requiring liquid-scanners at security checkpoints from April 2013, meant the central terminal building would not be large enough, and needed redesigning.

Berliner Flughafen held a meeting today to decide whether to keep to the original schedule - and modify the terminal afterwards - or postpone the opening.

It says that it has opted to push back the opening date to 3 June 2012 because maintaining the timetable was "too risky". The bankruptcy of one of the terminal planning partners earlier this year contributed to this assessment, and the decision to postpone.

While the original Brandenburg International Airport terminal plan included 36 security lines, work on these "has been stopped", says the airport operator. Instead the terminal will have 32 security lines in an amended configuration, while the other four will be put in place by April 2013.

Berliner Flughafen supervisory board chairman Klaus Wowereit says the postponement and adjustment to the plan is a "good compromise" which balances the need for a quick opening with the need for forward planning.

"In comparable projects delays lasting years are the norm, as are exploding costs," says Wowereit. "We are far removed from encountering such obstacles."

Additional investment for the modification will be "fully covered" by the current funding programme, the operator insists.

"I believe that today's decision makes supreme sense, both in planning and economic terms," adds Berliner Flughafen chief Rainer Schwarz. "With the new opening date we will not need to turn away traffic, and with the building solution reached today we remain securely within the existing budget."

Berliner Flughafen adds that, if required, the redesigned security area will also be able to accommodate full-body scanners.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news