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Delayed Berlin airport costs Germany dear

Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 03:00

June 19 - Berlin's new international airport should have been open for a year, but may not start operating until 2017. The cost has doubled to 4.3 billion euros, mostly due to the delays. Joanna Partridge reports from Berlin on what's gone wrong, and looks at other large German infrastructure projects facing delays.

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An aborted take off - that's threatening Germany's reputation as the home of efficiency. This is how Berlin's new international airport was supposed to look. Instead Willy Brand International is years behind schedule, with a ballooning budget. The opening has been pushed back at least four times since 2011. The grand opening slated for June 2012 was cancelled after hundreds of design errors and construction flaws were discovered, including problems with the fire-safety system. The last scheduled opening date was October 2013 - but that too has been moved to who knows when - some say it might not happen until 2017. Dieter Faulenbach da Costa is an architect who specialises in airports. He believes there were fundamental planning errors. SOUNDBITE: Dieter Faulenbach da Costa, Architect and airport expert, saying (German): "Maybe we should consider putting a stick of dynamite under the terminal and returning to the drawing board. It might be cheaper or better. The passenger terminal isn't functional, which shows the division of the space is wrong. In the waiting areas there is a excessive amount of space and things on offer for more than 40 million passengers. On the other hand in the check-in area and baggage reclaim, there's capacity for a maximum 17 million passengers a year." PTC The new airport was a building disaster, now it's a financial one. It's still a construction site and local media report the delay's costing between thirty and forty million euros every month. The total cost isn't expected to be known until 2016. Kay Herrig owns a small flower shop and beat stiff competition to secure a unit in the new airport. But he's not making any money yet - and like other small firms, hasn't received any compensation. SOUNDBITE: Kay Herrig, Owner of Blumenhaus Schamp flower shop, saying (German): "Financially, we finished installing everything, so we've had the cost of all that. In terms of employees, we had to employ five people and then let them go again. And then there's been all the trouble and worry." Some blame the politicians on the airport's supervisory board. Others say it's down to bureaucracy and red tape. And it's not the only major German project facing delays. Work on Stuttgart's central train station began in 2010 - it may not be finished till 2020, and could cost three or even fours times the original 2.4 billion euro estimate. Hamburg's Elbe Philharmonic Concert Hall is also 3 years late, with costs increasing more than sevenfold. SOUNDBITE: Dieter Faulenbach da Costa, Architect and airport expert, saying (German): "I don't think it's hurting our position. I'd say it makes us Germans more likeable. We're no longer perfect." But other Germans worry it's making the country an international laughing stock. Berlin's other airports are operating at full capacity, unable to add new flights from the capital to emerging economies. The damage from the fiasco could end up costing the country even more than the delays.

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Delayed Berlin airport costs Germany dear

Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 03:00

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