Berlin Brandenburg Airport may once have been best known for its much delayed opening, but it has weathered an exceptionally tricky first year and has big ambitions, chief operating officer Patrick Muller tells Tara Craig
There must have been times over the years between the design and opening of Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) that its stakeholders – and indeed the wider public – thought that its first day of operations would never come. What no one could have imagined, however, was that the airport would open during a global pandemic. Chief operating officer Patrick Muller summed it up neatly by saying: “I guess it's fair to say it was a difficult first year for the airport.”
Muller believes that BER was the first airport to carry out an ORAT (operational readiness and airport transfer) programme during a pandemic, despite the challenges posed by having to limit the number of people they could have in a room at any one time. “You prepare for mass trials with maybe 2,000 passengers. None of that was possible,” he told Airports International.
The airport finally opened on October 31, 2020, with the second lockdown coming into force shortly afterwards and traffic levels plummeting to 10% of 2019 figures. Germany’s government-driven furlough scheme kicked in, paying employees some 60% of their salary, which the airport topped up, enabling BER to avoid letting anyone go.