18-May-2012 11:47 AM

Berlin Brandenburg Airport to open on 17-Mar-2013, MD operations and construction to depart company

Germany's Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH stated (17-May-2012) Berlin Brandenburg International Airport will now be opened on 17-Mar-2013. The company also provided the following updates to the situation leading to the delayed opening of the airport from 03-Jun-2012 and the plan for the future:

  • MD operations BBI: The supervisory board announced that MD operations and construction Dr Manfred Körtgen will "leave the company" following "discussions about the reasons for postponing the opening date". Dr Körtgen joined the airport company in 2004 as director of BBI planning and construction. He was head of the planning team and was responsible for the setting up the team responsible for the construction of the new airport. From Sep-2008, as MD operations/BBI, he was in charge of the construction of Berlin Brandenburg Airport. Until a replacement is found, the CEO Professor Rainer Schwarz will be temporarily in charge of the department;
  • Contract termination: The contract with project management company Planungsgemeinschaft Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg International (pg bbi) will be terminated. pg bbi was the consortium responsible for project management and site supervision at the airport with the consortium comprising J.S.K. International Architekten und Ingenieure GmbH and gmp Generalplanungsgesellschaft mbH;
  • Fire safety systems: The company noted the fully-automated fire safety systems will be in place by Dec-2012;
  • Reason behind the delay: The opening was postponed since completion of the safety systems, and their subsequent structural approval, could no longer be accomplished by the planned opening date. The airport had decided to complete a partially automated version of the fire protection and control system by 03-Jun-2012 as a transitional solution, and to introduce a fully-automated system over the following months. However, a letter from 09-May-2012 from the Building Standards Authority said "this time-saving option was no longer viable". The letter stated: "A further application for use of the terminal with interim measures, such as a man-machine interface, will not be successful"; 
  • Criticism of risk management and consequences: Criticism has been was levelled at the BER planners' risk management. The board concluded the risks to a timely opening posed by the late completion of the ambitious fire safety and control system had been underestimated. It continued, "The situation had become more and more challenging as some construction works were behind schedule, while planning, scheduled building works, staff training and trial runs continued simultaneously. Some scenarios could therefore not be tested as planned during the trial runs. Interruptions to trial runs occurred repeatedly as a result of construction work (e.g. due to electricity being used by construction workers which resulted in check-in islands not running properly). A further issue was the lack of reliability of certain systems, particularly in parts of the data technology and safety equipment (e.g. WLAN networks, fire-alarm system, door controls)". [more - original PR]

Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH: "The new timeline is set to minimise the risk that the time available for inspections, approvals and certifications could potentially be insufficient. In addition, the risk would be too high to move the airport in winter due to adverse weather leading to operational restrictions. The Supervisory Board therefore followed the recommendation of the management and decided that all construction work should be completed first before the remaining necessary steps are taken that will allow the airport to commence operations. These steps entail the so-called impact and complex inspection by certified experts, subsequent inspection by the Building Standards Authority, further trial runs, designation of the airport site as a security area, and delivery of goods to storage facilities, shops and restaurants," company statement, 17-May-2012.

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