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Berlin airport to open in 2020 after nine-year delay

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The entry hall to the Berlin-Brandenburg Willy-Brandt international Airport in Schoenefeld, near Berlin.The new international airport is set to open on Oct 31, 2020 after an embarrassing delay of nine years because of structural problems and corruption.

[BERLIN] Berlin's new international airport is set to open on Oct 31, 2020, its operating company said Friday, after an embarrassing nine-year delay owing to structural problems and corruption.

"The BER will open on 31.10.2020," Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg (FBB) said on Twitter, using the international code for the airport.

FBB said chief executive Engelbert Luetke Daldrup had informed the airport operator's board of the new date.

Mismanagement of the project in the Brandenburg region that surrounds Berlin has dented Germany's pride in its engineering prowess and reputation for honesty in business.

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The airport was planned in the 1990s and construction began in 2006.

It was originally to open in 2011 but the date has been repeatedly pushed back over a series of issues, including fire safety.

In 2016, a former manager was jailed for accepting a bribe.

Meanwhile, the airport's initial budget of 1.7 billion euros (S$2.55 billion) has more than tripled as the delay dragged on.

Brandenburg regional chief Dietmar Woidke hailed Friday's announcement, saying "this time it's going to work."

The airport is intended to eventually replace Berlin's two existing airports - Schoenefeld and Tegel.

But, in a referendum in 2017, Berliners voted to keep Tegel, arguing that with the growing number of arrivals the new airport may already be too small when it opens.

AFP