Please note: somewhat unexpectedly, BER Airport has since been finished and opened. You can actually book flights there now! 😉
A huge, abandoned airport that cost than 5 Billion Euro more than planned even though no one can fly from there? That’s BER Airport. This pinnacle of German engineering just calls out to be explored!
So, Berlin currently has two airports which both date from the 1960-ies and are much too small. Therefore, the governments of Berlin, Brandenburg and Germany decided to build a completely new airport on the area of the existing Schönefeld airport. It was planned to open in 2011, was built – but never opened; because the technical installations were deemed unsafe. And so, the Berlin airport authority tries to repair it, while the old and crumbling airports of Berlin continue their service.
The new BER Airport is right next to the existing Schönefeld Airport. The outside areas are easily accessible (bar a few street barricades) and there are even regular bus services to the new airport terminal (which surprisingly, no one uses). Fun fact: there are even two daily trains to the airport, but not for passengers- They just run to push some fresh air into the underground tunnels to keep them from going mouldy.
To get inside, you will need a guide. The meeting point is right next to the existing Berlin Schönefeld airport and can easily be reached by S-Bahn lines S9 and S45 or by Bus.
Inside, the terminal building looks as if work just stopped abruptly shortly before everything was finished. Construction equipment stands unused, seats, wall tiles and carpets wait to be used. The huge check-in hall and long corridors are empty. The depature boards for flights and trains are empty. But at least the clocks are running and even show the right time. Fun facts: the monitors are now so old they all need to be replaced. And the software still runs on Windows XP as you can easily find out: a few touches on the screens and it crashes.
We walked through an emergency exit door that would normally be closed into the security area. The gates are connected by a huge hall that was planned to be the duty free shopping area – the shops had already been furnished for their opening, but they never opened and most furnishing have since been ripped out. Some thing actually work: lights are on and lifts are running. But some of the departure gates and waiting areas are barely more than empty shells. The parts that are finished do look nice, though.
One thing that is noticeable everywhere is that the floor and wall covering has been opened or even ripped out – this is because every single cable and pipe needs to be controlled, tested, marked and often replaced because electricity and water supply and fire safety still do not work properly. Fun fact: Even escalators were built too short – and just ended a meter below floor level.
While you wait for the airport to be finished, why not read a few of my other travel guides?