Berlin airport opening set for Oct 2013

The opening of Berlin's new international airport was postponed for a third time on Friday, with the first planes now not set to use the 4.3 billion euro ($A5.31 billion) facility until two years after the original opening date.

Berlin-Brandenburg airport, designed to become a major European hub, was originally set to open on October 30, 2011. That date was postponed first forward to June 2012, then to March 2013.

The airport company's chief technology officer, Horst Amann, told a news conference the supervisory board had now set October 27, 2013 as the new opening date.

Amman said there had been a management reorganisation with clearer command to ensure the deadline was met after the extra seven months.

The delays have become a national embarrassment in a country that prides itself on its civil-engineering sector and ability to minutely plan large-scale and complex projects.

The media has called for heads to roll, and Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit, who chairs the airport board, has seen his popularity fall.

Most flights currently operate from the ageing former West Berlin Tegel airport, near the city centre. It is scheduled to close.

The new airport, code-named BER, is being built south-east of the city on former farmland and the remnants of Berlin's other existing airport, former East Berlin's Schoenefeld, which mostly hosts mostly low-cost flights.

The postponements, which officials blamed on construction delays and problems with the airport's fire safety features, have led to cost overruns. Government safety experts earlier refused to certify the terminal as capable to being safely evacuated if fire breaks out.

The vast site includes two new runways, a vast glass-walled terminal and a railway station.

Originally budgeted at 2.4 billion euros, the airport's cost has risen to 4.3 billion euros.

Airport chief executive Rainer Schwarz told reporters an application would be filed to European Commission for consent to 1.2 billion euros in additional state funding.

He said that because of other economies, this would be enough to complete the project. The aid is controversial because of potential conflicts with EU competition law.

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