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Berlin's airport fiasco: Another €2.2 billion and 2 more years


For those of you who've been following the saga of Berlin's decade-long attempt to build a new modern airport, there's more bad news. It's likely to miss next year's planned opening (the fifth planned date) by at least two years.

On the other hand, the European Commission last week approved the German government's loan guarantee for another €2.2 billion to allow construction to continue at Berlin Brandenburg Airport.

Among other problems the airport has faced since it missed its original 2010 opening date have been fires, a smoke suppression system that increased the smoke instead, unstable roofs, bribery and corruption, and a few more problems, giving vaunted German efficiency and order a sizable and embarrassing black eye.

For a quick review, you can either search our previous posts or this summary at, which also has a graphic timeline of the project's troubles. Oh, by the way: by the time it opens, it will already be past due for expansion; the interim Tegel airport already handles nearly as much traffic as BER is designed for!

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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The EU has become a Money Pit for lame ducks.

Another EU approved loan of 2.2 Billion Euros.

Another reason for the UK to quit the European Union.

Since it was Officially declared 'open' in March 2011, no commercial flight has actually left from or landed at Castellón-Costa Azahar Airport. Spain.

Built at a cost of 150 million euros.

The enduring feature of this freshly-deceased airport near Valencia is a statue in honour of Carlos Fabra, the local politician who was the driving force behind its construction. He is under investigation for tax evasion and corruption.

Last edited by GarryRF

Actually, there's no EU spending involved here. They only gave the German government permission to guarantee Berlin's loans.

I'm not sure about Castellon...thought it was a private fiasco. Ryanair is finally using it...vut I believe they are being subsidized to do so...

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

Under EU Law the Government of a country can not subsidise a private venture. That would produce unfair competition. Like if Ford were given a Government subsidy, but not to another car producer. But the Government can act as a Guarantor to promise repayment if the venture fails.

The EU does however give money to Countries with high unemployment to build factories that produce goods. Like in Poland, Lithuania, Bulgaria - old eastern block countries.

Then the new factory owner - an international company - has a low wage producer for its goods in Poland.

So it winds down it's production in the UK - losing thousands of jobs here.

Like the US - China.

Last edited by GarryRF

As Garry points out, it's an issue of state aid and competition. In the case of the airport, the company at the end of the chain, FBB (Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg), is structured as a private enterprise, although the Berlin and Brandenburg state governments (37% each) and the Federal government (26% each) are the investors. So, it is subject to the rules for government loans to private companies.

In this case, the Commission ruled (click here for the ruling) that the activities and the loan are not out of line with what a truly private company would do, and in line with normal lending practices, and therefore do not "distort competition."

Many countries have similar rules for competition and against favoritism; in this case, it's the EU rather than individual countries. What's odd here is only that the private company is actually a government company...but bound by the same rules as if it were private.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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