Germany’s embattled Berlin-Brandenburg Willy Brandt International airport will offer reserved timed slots for security clearance as it struggles with passenger throughput and other operations issues.
The airport, which opened in October 2020 after a decade of construction delays, said on 25 August that the timed slots will “optimise” the flow of air travellers through its facility.
The programme, called “BER Runway”, will be free and allow passengers with reservations to skip security lines.
“Passengers can plan the duration of their stay at the airport more reliably and thus make their journey less stressful,” says Thomas Hoff Andersson, chief operations officer of Flughafen Berlin-Brandenburg (FBB). “BER Runway is also an important step on the way to further digitising the processes at our airport. This will enable us to further optimise all processes in the interests of our passengers.”
Starting 72h before flights, passengers can reserve 15min slots within 1-6h of departures. Reservations are good between 10min before and 10min after reserved times. The programme is only available to passengers departing from Terminal 1, which serves all airlines except Ryanair.
“With BER Runway, the necessary time can be shortened and the stay in the terminal can be better calculated,” the airport says.
Even with the security slot system, the airport still recommends travellers arrive at the airport at least 2.5h before departures.
Berlin-Brandenburg, located southeast of the German capital, has a long and troubled history. The project was launched in 1996 but years of financial issues hampered its construction, and the costs skyrocketed to more than €7 billion ($6.97 billion).
Design and building flaws, and numerous management changes, slowed completion, and just a few weeks before its planned commissioning in June 2012 a series of safety-inspection failures prompted authorities to abruptly halt the opening.
In early 2020, eight years after its proposed completion, the coronavirus pandemic threatened to derail the facility’s opening again. It finally launched commercial passenger flights at the end of October 2020.
The airport made headlines again this year, experiencing post-pandemic growing pains coupled with a rapid rise in passenger demand following the pandemic downturn. Understaffing at airlines and the airport contributed to operational headaches. During some high-volume periods, passengers were advised to arrive at the airport up to 4h before flights to ensure sufficient time to check in and clear security.