Karsten Mühlenfeld

The Doors

Struggling to for lift off at BER airport. Source: DPA, Patrick Pleul

There is no chance that Berlin’s beleaguered international airport will open this year, it has been confirmed at the weekend.

Berlin Mayor Michael Müller said the airport known as BER, located southeast of the city, would not be able to open as planned in late 2017. News agency DPA reported that problems with the functionality of hundreds of automatic doors and the sprinkler system could further delay the project.

The airport’s opening has been delayed multiple times amid spiraling costs, accusations of corruption and changes in personnel at the top. The airport is already five years late and billions of euros over budget.

All of this puts additional pressure on the airport’s head: On Sunday Karsten Mühlenfeld, BER’s managing director, confirmed the delay but promised the airport would open in 2018 – not 2019 or 2020 as some feared.

His statement led to irritation among BER’s leadership team, as they had reportedly not been consulted and the mayor told first.

The postponed date was roundly condemned. Mr. Mühlenfeld was criticized for failing to have an overview of developments, despite his claim on taking office that he takes the files to bed at night to keep up. If Mr. Mühlenfeld resigns or is fired before the airport is finished, he wouldn’t be the first.

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