SchönefeldTerminal 5 of Berlin's new Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER), formerly known as Schönefeld Airport, is to close from next March - for a whole year. And like so many other disruptions this year, it's all because of corona. A spokesperson for the airport said on Monday that the pandemic meant that far fewer passengers were using the airport than had been expected.
Up until recently, Schönefeld was Berlin's second airport after Tegel - however the latter was closed and the former converted into Terminal 5 at the new BER site as part of Berlin's pursuit of a "single airport strategy". It will be familiar to many who have visited from elsewhere in Europe, bringing millions to the city every year on budget airlines like easyjet and Ryanair.
Built in the 1970s, it served as East Germany's main civil airport. It was incorporated into the long-awaited BER site despite its age to help the shiny new airport building provide for the predicted increasing numbers of passengers arriving in Berlin pre-corona.
However, the pandemic has changed everything, and only a fifth of the airport's usual flights are taking off - with only a tenth of the usual passengers. Airport boss Engelbert Lütke Daldrup will now be presenting his plan to temporarily close Terminal 5 to the board on Friday. Dialogue with the airlines, including Ryanair, Terminal 5's biggest provider, will follow.
BER, also known as Willy Brandt Airport, has three terminals altogether: besides Terminal 5, its main Terminal 1 was launched with the airport's grand opening at the end of October, while Terminal 2 is currently expected to be opened in late March 2021 in time for the summer flight schedule. It remains unclear whether passengers with airlines like Ryanair will soon be required to check in at Terminal 1, instead of Terminal 5.