Airport infrastructure in ‘pre-post pandemic’ period: Berlin Brandenburg T2 debut prompts questions
At different speeds, airport infrastructure plans are regaining traction. This three-part report looks at examples which epitomise the wide variance in attitudes in this ‘pre-post pandemic’ period.
In Singapore, where it once appeared that Changi Airport’s Terminal 5 scheme could be halted as quickly and decisively as a Russian tank, the Transport Minister has confirmed the government’s latter-day commitment to it without actually providing a commitment.
In Berlin Terminal 2 – which was tacked onto the 1990's Berlin Brandenburg Airport Master Plan almost as an afterthought because the initial plan was so far out of date on account of construction delays that began at the start of a previous decade – will finally open in late Mar-2022. However, that opening prompts as many questions as it does answers.
In the UK, a scheme to replace an ageing terminal at Leeds Bradford Airport with an ecologically friendly and ‘no growth’ alternative has been scuppered by a supposedly ecologically friendly government which demanded a public enquiry. The airport, unsurprisingly, has thrown in the towel.
- Berlin Brandenburg’s T2 will open at last, but it shares duties with T1 and uncertainty hangs over T5.
- T2 will serve primarily as a check-in building for departures and arrivals, with some departures actually from T1.
- Are we seeing an example of terminal consolidation?
Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) to open mothballed Terminal 2 in Mar-2022, ‘sharing’ duties with T1
Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BBA) has featured widely in CAPA reports before and since it opened in Oct-2020, immediately closing down its 23,000sqm Terminal 2 – which itself was an addition to the original plan for the airport, constructed at the end of a building and with an 'into-operation' time frame that took on Biblical proportions. (The other terminals are the functioning T1, and terminal T5, which was the old Schoenefeld Airport terminal, now on the north of the new airport and re-employed as a low cost facility for it; except that it, too, remains closed, its previous traffic being handled into T1).
The financial issues that Berlin and Brandenburg have faced in getting the airport operational were huge, and the EU has recently approved a EUR1.7 billion (USD1.9 billion) grant to BBA in respect of losses incurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and related travel restrictions.
On 10-Mar-2022 BBA announced that it intended – finally – to begin operations from Terminal 2 on 24-Mar-2022.
The terminal, which has capacity to handle six million passengers per annum, will predominantly handle Ryanair services. There will be some juxtaposition between terminals 1 and 2 initially, with some airlines’ services being handled between the two terminals.
For example, T2 will serve primarily as a check-in building for departures and arrivals, with some departures actually from T1. It is connected to the departure gates in Terminal 1's North Pier via two bridges.
Numerous self-service kiosks are available to passengers in the check-in hall of Terminal 2.
The train station below Terminal 1 offers a direct connection to both terminals and the multi-storey car parks at BER can also be used equally for both terminals. It is only “a short walk” from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2. The security checkpoints are located on T2’s first floor. Behind them is the plaza with shops and restaurants.
In common, again, with many other airports, BBA has seen a huge increase in passenger traffic in 2022 to date, racking up a 385% gain.
Berlin Brandenburg Airport: passenger numbers/growth, 2020-2022
What future now for Brandenburg T5?
Two questions immediately spring to mind.
Firstly, what will now be the future of T5? If Ryanair is going to operate from T2 (directly, or “via” T1) then other budget airlines will wish to follow suit, and on the same financial terms. Otherwise, Ryanair will have an unacceptable advantage.
Ryanair is a big player at BBA as measured by movements, but not the biggest. That is easyJet, and three Lufthansa Group airlines – Lufthansa, Eurowings and Austrian Airlines – collectively have 27.1% of movements during peak hours, which is almost 10 ppts more than Ryanair.
And if Ryanair does stay in T2 then what is the purpose of T5?
Berlin Brandenburg Airport: system movements share, peak hours
Is this an example of terminal consolidation?
Secondly, is this T2/T1 arrangement a temporary one, or is it an indication that the move towards terminal consolidation (which helps centralise supporting aeronautical [e.g. security and border control] and non-aeronautical [e.g. shops and FBO]) facilities, becoming prevalent in Europe? Is BBA being used as a test bed for it?
This shift towards such consolidation between terminals and concourses in North America was highlighted in the recent CAPA article: Applications for US Airport Terminal Programme open – difficult decisions; private sector excluded
The most significant issue with the opening of T2, though, is that it is opening at all.
Just as with the new airport, which was first conceived back in the 1990s, there must have been doubts as to whether it would ever open when BBA received its first few passengers on 31-Oct-2020 and it is another pointer towards ‘normality’ in the airports business becoming at least something to aspire to, even if it remains some way off.
Airport infrastructure in ‘pre-post pandemic’ period
READ PART ONE OF THIS SERIES: Airport infrastructure in ‘pre-post pandemic’ period: Singapore Changi commits to Terminal 5
READ PART THREE OF THIS SERIES: Airport infrastructure in ‘pre-post pandemic’ period: Leeds-Bradford aims thwarted by delays