Berlin Brandenburg Airport
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2013)|
|Berlin Brandenburg Airport
Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg
|IATA: BER – ICAO: EDDB|
|Operator||Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH|
|Elevation AMSL||157 ft / 48 m|
Berlin Brandenburg Airport (IATA: BER, ICAO: EDDB) (German: Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt) is an international airport under construction, located adjacent to the current Berlin Schönefeld Airport in Schönefeld 18 kilometres (11 mi) south of the city centre of Berlin, the capital of Germany. It is intended to replace both Schönefeld and Berlin Tegel Airport, and to become the single commercial airport serving Berlin and the surrounding state of Brandenburg, an area with a combined 6 million inhabitants. With a projected annual passenger number of around 27 million, Berlin Brandenburg Airport would become the third busiest airport in Germany, superseding Düsseldorf Airport, and one of the fifteen busiest in Europe.
Air Berlin, Germanwings and easyJet are expected to become the leading carriers at Berlin Brandenburg Airport, having announced the intent to relocate and keep their hub / base operations there which they already maintain at Tegel and Schönefeld airports today.
Originally planned to open in 2010, Berlin Brandenburg Airport has encountered a series of delays due to poor construction planning, management, execution and corruption. As of January 2014, planners have not set a new opening date, but say it will not be before 2015. Since the unfinished construction and corrective work is estimated to take 18 months, an opening prior to late 2016 is unlikely.
- 1 History
- 2 Construction progress
- 3 Airport overview
- 4 Projected passenger volume and expansion plans
- 5 Expected airlines and destinations
- 6 Commercial and exposition area
- 7 Controversies
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Aviation in Schönefeld
Berlin Brandenburg Airport is located just south of Berlin Schönefeld Airport, which opened as an airfield to accommodate the local Henschel aircraft plant on 15 October 1934. During the Battle of Berlin, on 22 April 1945, Soviet troops occupied the airfield. In 1946, the headquarters of the Soviet Air Forces moved to Schönefeld from Johannisthal Air Field, and commercial flights (initially by Aeroflot) began.
During the following years, Schönefeld Airport became the most important civilian airport in the newly founded German Democratic Republic (East Germany), with national flag carrier Interflug based there. In 1976, the modern passenger terminal currently known as Terminal A opened.
Plans for a new Berlin Airport
Following the German reunification in 1990, Berlin once again became the German federal capital and leaders made plans to recognise the city's increased importance by constructing a large commercial airport, as Tegel Airport, Schönefeld Airport and Tempelhof Airport were aging and becoming increasingly congested due to rising passenger numbers. To ensure the economical viability of the project, they pursued the single airport concept, which meant that the new airport would become the sole commercial airport for Berlin and Brandenburg. As a consequence, they planned to close Tegel, Schönefeld and Tempelhof upon opening the new airport, and to ban commercial aviation from any other airport in Brandenburg.
On 2 May 1991, the Berlin Brandenburg Flughafen Holding GmbH (BBF) was founded, owned by the states of Berlin and Brandenburg (37 percent each) and the Federal Republic of Germany (the remaining 26 percent). Eberhard Diepgen, Mayor of Berlin, became the first chairman of the supervisory board. The holding company announced on 20 June 1993 that Sperenberg Airfield, Jüterbog Airfield and the area south of Schönefeld Airport — the final choice, were considered possible sites for the new airport, with each site advocated by various factions in the ensuing political discussion. Concerning land-use planning and noise issues, rural Sperenberg and Jüterbog were considered more suitable for construction of a large airport. Economics favored an airport located near the city center with existing road and rail links (as it is the case with Schönefeld).
On 28 May 1996, Mayor Diepgen, Minister-President of Brandenburg Manfred Stolpe and Federal Minister for Transport Matthias Wissmann committed to Schönefeld as the site for the new airport. This so-called consensus decision was later affirmed by the respective state legislatures. The new airport will even use certain infrastructure, like a runway, from the current Schönefeld Airport.
Originally, BBF hoped the new airport would be owned and operated by a private investor. They called for proposals, which led to two bidding consortia emerging as serious contenders. One was led by Hochtief, through its Hochtief Airport subsidiary, and included ABB, Fraport and Bankengesellschaft Berlin as partners. The other was comprised IVG, Flughafen Wien AG, Dorsch-Consult, Commerzbank and Caisse des Dépôts. On 19 September 1998, BBF announced that the Hochtief consortium had been granted the exclusive authority to negotiate the terms and conditions for an acquisition of the Berlin Brandenburg Airport holding and the construction and subsequent operation of the new airport for a 50 years period.
On 31 March 1999, BBF officially commissioned Hochtief and its partners to construct the new airport, causing IVG to file a lawsuit. The Brandenburg Oberlandesgericht indeed acknowledged the concerns voiced by IVG. In its review, it found that in certain points, the assessment of the applications had been biased towards Hochtief, which led to annulment of the contract award on 3 August of that year.
In a new attempt to receive the contract to construct and operate the new airport, Hochtief Airport and IVG teamed up and created a plan for a joint bid on 10 November 2000. At the time, BBF hoped that the planning approval could be completed in 2002, with the tentative opening in 2007.
When Hochtief/IVG submitted its bid in February 2002, the BBF board consisted of Manfred Stolpe, now Federal Minister of Transportation; Klaus Wowereit, who replaced Eberhard Diepgen as Mayor of Berlin and chair of the board; and Matthias Platzeck, who replaced Stolpe as Minister-President of Brandenburg. The board determined that the proposal would not be practical and voted on 22 May 2003 to scrap the privatization plan. Hochtief and IVG received approximately €50 million compensation for their planning effort.
Public ownership and construction permit
The new Berlin airport would be planned, owned and operated by BBF Holding, which became Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH (FBB) shortly afterwards, and remained under the ownership of Berlin, Brandenburg and the federal govenment. On 13 August 2004, the Brandenburg state ministry for infrastructure and regional policy granted approval for the development of Schönefeld Airport into new Berlin Brandenburg International Airport.
A legal battle ensued, as local residents filed lawsuits against the ministry's decision. It terminated 16 March 2006, when the Federal Administrative Court of Germany rejected the residents' arguments, but imposed stipulations on the flight operations at the new airport. Thus, the construction permit was granted only under the condition that once operational, the number of people living in the approach path would be lower, compared to the situation surrounding the three existing airports — Tegel, Schönefeld, Tempelhof. Therefore, it was mandatory for Tegel and Schönefeld to close (Tempelhof was already decommissioned in 2008) once Berlin's air traffic is concentrated at the new airport.
By 2006, the construction cost was budgeted at €2.83 billion, which FBB achieved by a credit raising of €2.4 billion, a bank deposit of €430 million by the FBB partners, and an additional €440 million of equity capital provided by FBB.
During construction, it became clear that the airport would become significantly more expensive due to underestimating the actual costs in a too-optimistic calculation; construction flaws; and increased expenses for soundproofing nearby homes. The series of delays in opening is expected to lead to a number of lawsuits against FBB, which may result in large-scale damage compensation for the affected airlines and airport businesses. Air Berlin already announced its intention of such a move.
As of late 2012, expenditures for Berlin Brandenburg Airport totaled €4.3 billion, nearly twice the originally anticipated figure.
During much of the planning and construction phase, the new airport was known as Berlin Brandenburg International Airport, abbreviated BBI. When the planned and missed opening date of 2 June 2012 drew nearer, the FBB launched a marketing campaign introducing the BER branding, reflecting the new airport code.
In 2007, the FBB board decided that Berlin Brandenburg Airport would be given a second name, honoring a person with a distinctive link to the city of Berlin. On 11 December 2009, the decision was made in favor of Willy Brandt. The Nobel Peace laureate of 1971 served as mayor of West Berlin from 1957 to 1966 and as West German chancellor from 1969 to 1974. Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and Minister-President of Brandenburg Matthias Platzeck, both members of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) which Brandt led from 1964 to 1987, led the effort to add Brandt's name to the airport.
Other suggested honorees included Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg; Albert Einstein and Marlene Dietrich, from members of the Christian Democratic Union; Gustav Stresemann, by the Free Democratic Party; and Otto Lilienthal, advocated by the Green Party.
To make way for the new airport, two villages were removed. The 335 inhabitants of Diepensee received compensation and were offered new homes in Königs Wusterhausen, a move that was completed by late 2004. The 35 villagers of Selchow were resettled to Großziethen in mid-2005.
After nearly 15 years of planning, actual construction work for Berlin Brandenburg Airport began on 5 September 2006.
In November 2007, the BER-Infotower opened, a 32 metres (105 ft) high public observation tower and information center. The transparent and twisted structure, originally intended to be temporary, will instead remain once work is completed as part of the airports visitor facilites.
Construction of the terminal building began in July 2008. On 8 and 9 May 2010, the airport celebrated topping out with open days at the airport site. On 30 October 2011, the railway line and terminal station were ready for service, however until the opening no scheduled trains will operate.
On 24 November 2011, operating tests and service trials began, based on the anticipated opening date of 3 June 2012. A total of 12,000 volunteers participated in simulated check-in, security screening, boarding and baggage claim. The tests used 15,000 pieces of luggage in the automated baggage processing system and covered nighttime operations and emergency scenarios. This phase also saw the acceptance tests of various airport systems. On 8 May 2012, it became clear that the building could not open on schedule due to failure of the fire protection system. All trials were halted and have not resumed.
Delayed opening and construction flaws
When construction of the terminal building began in 2006, FBB announced 30 October 2011 as the opening day for the new facility. On 14 June 2010, a few days after the topping out ceremony, FBB announced that construction deadlines could not be met, and postponed the opening to 3 June 2012. This was blamed to the bankruptcy of pg bbi, the construction planning company. As the new date drew nearer, airlines amended their timetables to reflect their plans to operate from BER, and airport shops and restaurants prepared for the opening. As the airports in Tegel and Schönefeld were to close once the last flights on 2 June had been serviced, a major logistics operation for moving the airports' infrastructure was launched. Vehicles, equipment and supplies that were needed at Tegel until the final moments would have been transported to BER during the night of 2–3 June. To allow this, authorizes planned to restrict the highways linking the two airports (A113, A100 and parts of A111) for airport traffic only. Rundfunk Berlin Brandenburg, the national broadcaster for Berlin and Brandenburg, scheduled 24 hours of continuous live coverage of the airport move. A special Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt Airport, operated with an Airbus A380, was scheduled as the first departure from the new airport at 06:00 on June 3.
On 8 May 2012, 26-days before the move, FBB again postponed the opening date, canceling moving plans and in some cases, reversing actions already completed. It cited technical difficulties primarily concerning the fire safety and smoke exhaust systems for the delay. As a result, FBB dismissed Manfred Körtgen, the director for technical affairs, and replaced him with Horst Amann. It also announced 17 March 2013 as new opening date for BER, however, this was soon met by doubts due to the large number of construction flaws and problems that inspectors continued to find.
In early September 2012, FBB further postponed the opening to 27 October 2013. Again, media and experts were constantly voicing doubts and concerns about this deadline, most notably Peter Ramsauer, Federal Minister for Construction and Infrastructure.
On 6 January 2013, FBB announced that BER would be further delayed, at least until 2014 but did not announce a definite. As a consequence, Klaus Wowereit resigned as chairman of the supervisory board, and was replaced by Matthias Platzeck, who previously had served as his deputy. Rainer Schwarz, the CEO of FBB, was dismissed on 16 January. On 8 March 2013, FBB named Hartmut Mehdorn, previously CEO of Deutsche Bahn (1999–2011) and Air Berlin (2011–2013), as his replacement. On 8 January 2014, FBB announced the airport would not open in 2014; and on 24 February, Hartmut Mehdorn stated it would be unlikely the airport would open before 2016.
The major issue for the delayed opening is that the fire protection and alarm system in the terminal building was not built according to the construction permit and failed the mandatory acceptance test necessary for the airport to open. FBB proposed an interim solution employing up to 700 human fire spotters which the building supervision department of the local Dahme-Spreewald district rejected. Inspectors have uncovered flaws concerning the wiring, programming and implementing of the highly complex system designed by Siemens and Bosch which automatically controls sprinklers, smoke extractors and fire doors. For aesthetics, designers decided that the terminal would have no smoke extraction ducts on its rooftop. In case of fire, smoke would be pumped into exhaust ducts running below the structure, requiring the natural behavior of hot air to be reversed. Achieving this on scale is a unique undertaking and thus far, this elaborate smoke extraction system has not worked as anticipated. To meet the requirements for the fire system to pass the acceptance test, large scale reconstruction work might be needed.
The insolvency of general planner Planungsgemeinschaft Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg International (pg bbi) and the dismissal of the Gerkan, Marg and Partners architects, who bore partial blame for the problems, had a widespread impact on construction. Inspectors have uncovered many examples of poor workmanship due to a lack of proper supervision and documentation, most notably concerning the wiring. Reports have surfaced about cable conduits which hold too many cables or in incompatible combinations, such as phone lines and high voltage wires. A total of 60 kilometres (37 mi) of cooling pipes were allegedly installed with no thermal insulation. To correct this, the demolition of numerous walls may be necessary. Furthermore, exterior vents appear to be in improper locations allowing rain water from the western façade to enter them. The 18 km (11 mi) long exhaust system to remove smoke from a fire is leaking.
The initial design for the main hall, known as "monster" to construction workers, called for a single exhaust system. Revised plans call for multiple systems controlled by 90 km (56 mi) of wiring. As of 19 May 2014, Siemens has not yet designed the wire harnesses. These problems are forcing the initial construction budget to skyrocket.
Berlin Brandenburg Airport will have two parallel runways. With a spacing of 1,900 metres (6,200 ft), these will allow independent flight operations without interference from wake turbulence.
The northern runway of BER is the southern runway of the old Schönefeld Airport, and has been in use since the 1960s. To adapt to the new airport, it has been renovated and lengthened from 3,000 to 3,600 metres (9,843 to 11,811 ft).
The newly built southern runway has a length of 4,000 metres (13,123 ft) and was officially commissioned on 31 May 2012. Until the opening of Berlin Brandenburg Airport, it is closed per NOTAM.
Air traffic control
The Deutsche Flugsicherung is responsible for air traffic control and apron control at Berlin Brandenburg Airport. At 72 metres (236 ft), the control tower is the third highest in Germany (only surpassed by Munich Airport and Düsseldorf Airport). On 25 March 2012, the new tower opened replacing the former facility at Schönefeld.
The U-shaped terminal building of Berlin Brandenburg Airport was designed by gmp architects, which previously designed the hexagonal Terminal A at Tegel Airport, opened in 1974. At BER, the terminal sits between the two runways, creating a so-called midfield airport above the underground train station. The terminal has four public levels designated 0, 1, 2 and 3.
The check-in area is located in the public area at Level 1 and houses 118 counters organised in eight clusters, called check-in isles. Planners anticipate that a significant number of passengers will use the more than 100 self check-in machines which will be installed.
The airside area will be accessible only to ticketed and screened passengers. Securitas Germany will staff the 35 screening stations. BER is equipped with 25 jet bridges, with another 85 aircraft stands on the apron. The boarding and arrival areas are divided into three piers with the main pier at 715 metres (2,346 ft) long and the north and south piers at 350 metres (1,150 ft) each. The main pier contains 16 jet-bridges; all but one has two-levels, allowing for the separation of arriving and departing passengers. Level 1 is intended for Schengen passengers (gates A01–A20, B01–B20), while Level 2 (gates C01–C19, D01–D17) is for non-Schengen passengers. Eight of the gates can accommodate wide-body aircraft and one gate has been designed to accommodate the Airbus A380, the largest commercial airliner currently in use. The apron has sufficient space to allow installation of a dual jetway allowing a quick boarding and disembarking process. A mezzanine (Level Z) at gates A21–22 and B21 allows for additional pre-boarding security checks for high-risk flights to the United States and Israel. Air Berlin, Lufthansa and Air France/KLM will operate airport lounges at the main pier, which will also be open for passengers of the respective alliance partners.
The south pier is reserved for near-exclusive use of Air Berlin and its Oneworld partners and contains nine single-storey jet bridges (gates A30–A38). The north pier features a more minimalist design compared to the other two piers, meeting the demands of low-cost carriers and has no jet-bridges, but walk-boarding-gates (B30–45) with direct apron access.
Cargo and general aviation
The initial module of the midfield cargo facilities has a capacity of 60,000 tonnes (59,000 long tons; 66,000 short tons) of cargo per year. With the completion of all planned expansions, this could handle up to 600,000 tonnes (590,000 long tons; 660,000 short tons) per year. The general aviation terminal is located in the northern part of BER.
Airport tourism facilities
The Infotower is a 32 metres (105 ft) observation tower located adjacent to the northern cargo terminal and includes a museum and gift shop and is the only portion of the airport currently open to the public. FBB also offers guided tours of the airport which have grown in popularity since the delayed opening.
The air transport wing of the German Defence Ministry (Flugbereitschaft), responsible for government flights, will move to Berlin Brandenburg Airport from its current based at Cologne Bonn Airport. It operates a fleet of Bombardier Global Express, Airbus A319, Airbus A310 and Airbus A340-300 VIP configured aircraft. The Bundesanstalt für Immobilienaufgaben (Federal Agency for Real Estate) is planning to construct a terminal on the northern edge of the airport for use by government officials and to welcome of foreign dignitaries during state visits. The glass-and-wood building is expected to be completed by 2016. The former Terminal A of Schönefeld Airport is serving as an interim terminal.
The terminal connects to a 3.1 kilometres (1.9 mi) east-west railway tunnel under the apron and the terminal complex. As the nine tunnel sections were the first structures to be built, they were constructed by conventional excavations.
A railway station with six tracks forms the lowest level of the terminal. Two tracks serve as a terminus for the S-Bahn – with the S9 serving the northern and the S45 serving the southern public transit ring, while the other four tracks handle EuroCity, InterCity, Intercity-Express and Regional-Express trains.
Deutsche Bahn confirmed in August 2011 that multiple daily Intercity-Express and InterCity trains will connect the airport to Bielefeld, Hannover, Hamburg, Dresden, Leipzig, Halle, Wolfsburg, as well as EuroCity trains connecting to Wroclaw and Krakow in Poland, Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Prague in the Czech Republic.
About half of the passengers are expected to access BER by rail. An express line (Regionalbahn) will connect the airport with the Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Berlin central station) in 30 minutes. Two more stops, Potsdamer Platz and Berlin Südkreuz, will be part of the Airport Express, which is planned to make the distance in just under 20 minutes by 2015, when a new train track will be inaugurated. Over 10% of passengers are expected to come from Poland, also thanks to upgraded highways on the Polish side of the border, making the airport accessible for air travellers from the western regions of that country.
Public transport connections at the new airport will include numerous bus services. Express buses X7 and X11 will connect BER and U-Bahn Rudow of underground line U7, every five minutes. The X11 bus continues to Lichterfelde-West and to Dahlem. Other bus lines also stop at a number of stations, providing connections with Berlin’s public transport network and destinations in Brandenburg.
The Berlin Brandenburg Airport is connected by its own exit to the freeway A113, which carries traffic into Berlin to the city freeway A100 and out to the outer city freeway ring A10 where it continues south as the freeway A13 in the direction of Dresden. The highway 96a along the north side of the airport is being expanded to four lanes towards Potsdam.
Four car parks and a car rental centre will be completed by the opening of BER. Around 10,000 parking spaces will be available in four multi-storey car parks.
Projected passenger volume and expansion plans
Since the German reunification, air traffic in Berlin has grown greatly. In 1991, the combined passenger volume of the city's airports was at 7.9 million per year. By 2012, this number had risen to 25.3 million. When Berlin Brandenburg opens, it will have a capacity of 27 million passengers per year. It may be expanded by up to two satellite concourses, bringing the terminal capacity to 45 million with runways capable of accommodating 50 million passengers per year. The two satellites, located on the apron parallel to the main pier and linked by tunnel, are included in the construction permit of Berlin Brandenburg Airport, meaning they could be built at any time without further regulatory hurdles or the possibility of third-party objections. A possible third runway could be located in the south, though no such plans exist to date.
Due to noise protection regulations enshrined in the operating licence of Berlin Brandenburg Airport, no take-offs or landings are allowed between midnight and 0500. The Federal Administrative Court of Germany rejected a lawsuit by residents aiming to extend this night flight ban from 2300 to 0600 on 13 October 2011. It was also ruled that affected residents should be provided with additional installed noise insulation.
Expected airlines and destinations
Air Berlin will move its primary hub from Tegel to Berlin Brandenburg. As a member of the Oneworld global airline alliance, Air Berlin requires airport facilities capable meeting the demands of its connecting passengers which Tegel cannot provide.
With the expected opening of BER 3 June 2012, Lufthansa greatly expanded its presence in Berlin at its interim facilities at Tegel Airport by adding several intra-European destinations. Over the coming years, Lufthansa plans to have all European flights that do not originate or terminate at either Frankfurt Airport or Munich Airport operated by its Germanwings subsidiary, which will likely become one of the largest tenants at BBI.
EasyJet will become the leading low-cost carrier at BER in terms of routes served, relocating its current Schönefeld base. If their respective plans concerning Berlin services do not change, Germania and Condor would each have an aircraft base at the new airport.
Projected traffic data
Combined total passengers at Berlin Tegel and Berlin Schönefeld Airports in 2010
|Germany, Cologne/Bonn||Cologne Bonn||
|United Kingdom, London||Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton, Southend, Stansted||
|France, Paris||Charles de Gaulle, Orly||
|Spain, Palma de Mallorca||Palma de Mallorca||
|Russia, Moscow||Domodedovo, Sheremetyevo, Vnukovo||
|Turkey, Istanbul||Atatürk, Sabiha Gökçen||
Commercial and exposition area
Berlin Air Show (ILA)
On 3 July 2012, the Berlin ExpoCenter Airport opened on the southeastern portion of the airport grounds. Messe Berlin operates the 250,000-square-metre (2,700,000 sq ft) exposition facility which is primarily intended as the site of the biennial Berlin Air Show.
Airport Information Center
Coinciding with groundbreaking for construction of the new airport, an information and public relations center called airportworld opened near the old Schönefeld Airport. On 14 November 2007, the Infotower, a 32 metres (105 ft) public viewing tower containing an exhibition about the new airport, opened on the BER construction site.
The area surrounding BER is zoned as a commercial district. Plans call for the construction of shopping centers and parking structures as well as industrial, commercial and office spaces. Situated directly at the terminal complex will be the BER Airport City with an area of 16 hectares (40 acres). Marketing of the real estate began in autumn 2006 and beginning in 2009 offices, hotels, car rentals, four parking decks with a capacity of 10,000, restaurants and retailers were built here.
To the north is the BER Business Park Berlin with a planned area of 109 hectares (270 acres) for industrial and commercial use as well as congress centers. A further Business Park North was proposed as a future use of the area of the old Schönefeld terminal. However, so far there are no definite plans for the future use of this area.
In September 2010, the Deutsche Flugsicherung published aircraft arrival and departure paths for Berlin Brandenburg Airport, which significantly differ from earlier ones used in the court decision for the construction permit. In the original maps, aircraft were expected to take off and land in a path parallel with the runway. The new plans saw flight paths that deviate from the runway direction by 15 degrees. Therefore, aircraft would now fly over areas in southern Berlin (Lichtenrade, Steglitz and Zehlendorf) and adjacent Brandenburg (Teltow, Stahnsdorf, Kleinmachnow and Potsdam) to the surprise of local residents, which prompted a wave of protests and a lawsuit which the courts rejected.
Both the expansion of Schönefeld Airport into BER and the quality of the connection to the railway network are the subject of public debate. The Bürgerverein Brandenburg-Berlin e.V. represents local residents who protest an expansion of air traffic to and from the south of Berlin. Also, traffic and environmental experts criticise the late completion dates for the fast connection to the central station. Still, Berlin Hauptbahnhof will be only a 30-minute journey with trains departing every 15 minutes upon inauguration. By 2020, this should be reduced to 20 minutes after reconstruction of the Dresdner bahn.
Due to the rising passenger numbers of the Berlin airports and the delays of BER, concerns were voiced that the new airport might be too small, especially the area housing check-in. Also, there are doubts about its economic viability once opened.
- Transport in Germany
- List of airports in Germany
- List of world's most expensive transport infrastructure
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Media related to Berlin Brandenburg Airport at Wikimedia Commons
- Official website
- Live webcam of the construction site on berlin-airport.de
- Current weather for EDDB at NOAA/NWS