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Aviation: Berlin's New Airport Gets Ready

SXF becomes BER; with the commissioning of Berlin Brandenburg Airport, the existing Schönefeld Airport, on the northern edge of the site, is to be part of BER as Terminal 5. SXF will receive the IATA code on 25th October in line with the change from the summer to winter flight schedule. In order for Berlin Brandenburg Airport to meet the requirements for a location with several terminals, extensive renovations and extensions have been made to Schönefeld. Included in the renovations are new security control technology, the adaptation of the guidance system and the establishment of flight operations areas.

Engelbert Lütke Daldrup, Chief Executive Officer of Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH (left), said: "Schönefeld Airport as the new Terminal 5 will be an inherent part of BER. As a result of the construction work, passengers can still be processed at T5 for a few years. This means that flight operations can be reliably staggered under coronavirus conditions".

The new terminal at BER

The terminal sections at Schönefeld have borne new markings, depicted as ‘K,L, M and Q’ since the end of March. This will prevent doubled-up names once the new terminal, situated between the two runways in the midfield area, is in operation. The guidance system in the terminal sections has also been adapted to the BER colour scheme. With the changeover of the 3-letter code, the large lettering on the roof will also be replaced and will read ‘BER Terminal 5’.

For passengers, the quality of check-in has been significantly improved, for example through the renovation of Pier 3a in Terminal Section K. In addition, the security-restricted area in Terminal Section K has been re-structured. The old passenger screening technology has been renewed and adapted to the current standard of hand luggage screening technology, and the security scanners for passengers have been upgraded. The number of security lanes has increased from 4 to 5. For this purpose, the building entrance had to be relocated and the passage to Terminal Section L had to be closed. By the end of the year, several more areas for the Federal Police will also be built. Furthermore, in cooperation with the Police, the baggage inspection systems have been upgraded.

The opening of BER will see flight operations taking place using both the existing and new terminals. Depending on the airline, passengers will check in and board at either T5 on the north side of the airfield or T1/T2 at the new terminal in the midfield area. Aircraft leaving from the former Schönefeld Airport will taxi to BER’s northern runway as before and take off from there. Flights departing from T1 will take off from the southern runway and consequently the flight operations areas at Schönefeld have been expanded. The cost of all construction works over the last three years amounts to €40 million. The works total 23,000 square metres of apron area in concrete construction as well as 100,000 square metres of taxiways and service roads in asphalt construction. New taxiways K5 and K6 allow for fast and parallel taxiing, while taxiway G ensures the connection to ramp 1 and thus to the government terminal. A new apron, 3b, provides space for five additional aircraft.

FBB in favour of further Covid-19 testing at airports

The CEO has also spoken out in favour of continuing Covid-19 tests at airports. Both in terms of passenger safety and to contain the virus in the capital region, the tests in Schönefeld and Tegel [while it remains open] will continue to be an important component in the fight against the pandemic.

Trial runs and testing of the new facilities have been running successfully for some months

"The tests at our airports have been well received by passengers" he said. "They have contributed to reducing the fear of being infected while travelling by plane. The testing processes at the airports can undoubtedly be optimised by focusing even more on only testing travellers returning from current high-risk areas. In order to continue contributing to efforts of handling the risk of infection in the capital region responsibly, while at the same time maintaining important economic processes, the continuation of testing at the airports is essential."

During the shutdown, the ramp in front of the new terminal saw a number of easyJet Airbus narrowbody aircraft parked as the airline has a major base in the German capital

The airport, together with Deutsche Bahn (DB), the German national rail operator, has also successfully carried out what is referred to as the 'Hot Quarter' fire protection and evacuation exercise in the new terminal and the train station below.

This was a full exercise in line with EASA and ICAO guidelines. Two exercise scenarios were mastered with the first consisting of a burning train in the station. The airport fire brigade had to start effectively tackling the fire within 15 minutes of the alarm. The second scenario consisted of a fire in the Terminal itself. Further aims of the exercise included the immediate evacuation of critical areas as well as the rescue of people with reduced mobility, establishment of an on-site mission command and checking the alert routes.

The masterplan illustration for BER.

(SXF is located at the top right hand side).

Lütke Daldrup continued, "The terminal and the train station below are also safe when they work together. We were able to prove this to the responsible authorities with the 'Hot Quarter' exercise. What is special about BER is that passengers can arrive and depart directly with the train or S-Bahn that goes under the terminal. This is unique in Germany and makes a joint exercise essential. I am grateful to all of the emergency services and for the exercise management for a job well done. A special thank you goes to the 800 volunteers and to Deutsche Bahn, without whom we couldn’t have provided the proof of safety”.

Alexander Kaczmarek, Group Representative of Deutsche Bahn for the State of Berlin: “Rail and air traffic are optimally linked at BER and that has now also been successfully proven by this exercise. We are pleased that the new train station under the terminal will soon be in operation. This will allow travellers to reach the airport in comfort and in an environmentally friendly way with both the S-Bahn as well as with regional and long distance trains.”

Schönefeld (SXF) served what used to be East Berlin, with Tegel the sole airport serving West Berlin after the closure of Tempelhof. The new airport, originally intended to replace Tegel also, was built on a site to the immediate south of SXF and included the older airfield and terminal. The new airport is due to open in October this year.

Cold War days: Interflug was the East German national airline, with SXF as its home base. While western carriers BEA/British Airways, Pan Am and Air France served Tempelhof and Tegel, SXF saw most East European airlines visiting.

All images Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg

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