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Air Berlin vents fury over Brandenburg postponement

Germany's Air Berlin has given its strongest hint yet that it might pursue compensation over the delayed opening to Berlin Brandenburg airport.

The airport's operator has admitted that a hold-up centred on the fire-safety system has forced a nine-month postponement, to March 2013, just a couple of weeks ahead of the original opening date of 3 June.

Air Berlin, which has been planning a transfer of operations to Brandenburg from Berlin Tegel, is furious about the scale of the delay and the late notification.

Chief executive Hartmut Mehdorn describes the situation as "totally unacceptable" and scorns the excuse given for the delay.

"The postponement of the opening by several months is no longer explicable purely based on fire protection measures," he says.

While the airline has not specifically said it would seek compensation, Mehdorn emphasises: "As a result [of the delay] we incur not only an economic loss but also damage to our hub's image, which is financially incalculable."

He says the postponement will lead to "almost irreparable" and "intolerable" reputational damage the city as an air transport hub.

The carrier claims it would have been difficult to accept the indications - earlier this month - of a delay until October, and that the revised opening date threatens its winter schedule.

"This latest decision will have a deep impact on the business operations of the market leader," Mehdorn claims. "We have promised to provide our passengers, our Oneworld alliance and our strategic partner Etihad Airways with good service even during the transition in Berlin. This has now been postponed indefinitely."

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