On June 3, Berlin Brandenburg Airport Willy Brandt, Europe's first new major airport for several years, will begin operations.

On June 3, Berlin Brandenburg Airport Willy Brandt, Europe’s first new major airport for several years, will begin operations.

Berlin Brandenburg Airport Willy Brandt (assigned the IATA code BER and named after a famous former West German Chancellor) has been built on the same land site as the current Berlin Schönefeld Airport, southeast of the city, but well to the south of the existing Schönefeld terminal.

Upon opening, BER will immediately replace the German capital’s two current airports, Berlin-Tegel Airport and Schönefeld. The Berlin airport system also included the famous Tempelhof until 2008.

Berlin Brandenburg International Airport Willy Brandt's airport city area is shown in this computer graphic image. Photo: Björn Rolle/Berlin Airports

“A new era dawns for the region around the capital with the opening of the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport,” said Prof. Dr. Rainer Schwarz, the head of Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH (the operator of Berlin’s airports), at the International Travel Bourse in Berlin. “Tourism is already booming in Berlin and Brandenburg. And I am certain that the tourism and conference business in the region around the German capital will benefit enormously from the new airport.”

Passengers using Berlin’s Tegel and Schönefeld Airports passed the 24 million mark in 2011, the first time in the company’s history the airports had exceeded this number. Passenger numbers at the two airports increased 7.7 per cent over the previous year and 2011 represented the ninth year in a row that air traffic in the Berlin-Brandenburg area developed at a faster rate than the average recorded by other international airports in Germany.

Its 2011 passenger traffic put the capital into third place among Germany’s commercial airports.

“2011 was a year marked by records. Twenty-four million passengers provide us with a good momentum for opening the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport Willy Brandt,” said Schwarz. “These results mean that we have already exceeded our original plans for the opening year before the airport has in fact officially opened.”

The interior of Berlin Brandenburg International Airport Willy Brandt's Main Terminal shows is bright and airy. The terminal features an airside marketplace covering approximately 9,000 square meters (96,875 square feet). Photo: gmp Architekten, JSK International/Björn Rolle/Berlin Airports

Air traffic has continued to grow in Berlin and Brandenburg at the beginning of the year in which the new airport is to be officially opened. A total of 3,295,749 passengers passed through Schönefeld and Tegel Airports in the first two months of 2012, an increase of 5.1 per cent over the same period last year.

Summer 2012 will see airlines significantly extending their routes to Berlin when Berlin Brandenburg Airport opens. Altogether, 75 airlines will serve 172 destinations in 50 countries from the new airport.

The summer schedule includes 16 new destinations, among them Los Angeles, Windhoek, Marseilles, Bologna, Gdansk and Valencia.

“Not only the range of destinations is being increased – numerous airlines are also increasing their flight frequency”, said Schwarz. “These increases in frequency are of major strategic importance for us, as they enable further development of the hub structures which we wish to push steadily on opening BER.”

When it opens, BER will be the only airport in Europe capable of practically doubling its traffic and aircraft-movement capacity. Berlin’s market leaders (Air Berlin, Lufthansa and easyJet) have already presented expansion programs.

This map of Berlin Brandenburg International Airport Willy Brandt shows the new airport has two independently operating, parallel runways, each to be used for take-offs and landings. The terminal has been positioned between the two runways in order to save space and reduce noise. Photo: Björn Rolle/Berlin Airports

Air Berlin (which styles its name airberlin) began a new long-haul service to Abu Dhabi in January, with Los Angeles and Windhoek to follow in May 2012. When Air Berlin joins oneworld in Berlin on March 20, it plans to extend its route network from Berlin continuously.

Lufthansa has announced its most extensive Berlin expansion program to date in time for the BER opening: the airline is to serve 32 new destinations from BER and increase its Berlin fleet from 9 to 15 aircraft.

EasyJet will also be continuing its growth course at BER by adding two new routes.

“The expansion plans by our largest airlines are plain to see: a third major player is entering the German market in the form of Berlin Brandenburg Airport”, noted Schwarz. “The ground is clearly prepared for growth in the region around the capital. With their unambiguous commitment to BER, airberlin, Lufthansa and easyJet have sent a positive signal for the future of air traffic at the Berlin-Brandenburg location.”

For more on Berlin’s new airport, see Page 2

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