Now arriving in Berlin

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Entering Terminal 1 at Berlin Brandenburg Airport.
Entering Terminal 1 at Berlin Brandenburg Airport. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Gunter Wicker/Berlin Brandenburg Airport
Felicity Long
Felicity Long

We can file this one under better late than never. In a piece of news that I expected to bring you almost 10 years ago, Berlin Brandenburg Airport is finally scheduled to open Oct. 31.

A decade ago, the airport's designers were giddy with anticipation over the bells and whistles designed to create a facility that would wow with its efficiency, user-friendliness and environmental sensitivity.

That was then. Over the ensuing years, the project was beset with so many problems and its inauguration delayed so often that, over time, the regularly updated opening dates were met with skepticism and a collective shrug.

But finally -- and during a pandemic, no less  Berlin Brandenburg is about to be a reality, easing traffic in and out of a city that has been drawing more than 13 million visitors a year on average since its reunification in 1990.

In addition to being a popular tourism destination, Berlin has increased its profile as a trade fair city in recent years, and the state of Brandenburg has had success attracting a variety of global powerhouse companies.

Called BER for short, the airport will also serve as a hub to Central and Eastern Europe, which, pre-Covid, was increasingly popular among international visitors and will likely be so again in future -- especially for repeat travelers to Europe who have already crossed A-list cities like Paris, London and Rome off their bucket lists.

Set to be Germany's third-largest airport, Berlin will fold the existing Schonefeld Airport into the facility as Terminal 5, while the new terminals will be Terminal 1 and Terminal 2.

Berlin Tegel Airport will close Nov. 8.

In all, Berlin Brandenburg will operate three terminals and two parallel runways on more than 3,500 acres and will be able to welcome up to 28 million passengers annually, with an eye to gradually increasing that to an annual 45 million passengers.

The airport is connected to the Berlin city center via Flughafen Express train and the Deutsche Bahn rail network.

It would be remiss of me not to give a nod to the airport's design. Terminal 1, with its glass roof and floaty red wave sculpture, will serve as the check-in hall and the heart of the airport complex.

Meanwhile, the 322-room Steigenberger Airport Hotel, located directly at the terminal and within walking from the train station, will also open Oct. 31. The property features meetings space for up to 500 people, a restaurant and a spa.

The airport will eventually offer 39 restaurants, with a massive Market Place retail plaza in the main terminal.

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