Berlin airports seek more Middle Eastern routes

An impression of the new Schoenefeld airport

REPRESENTATIVE of Berlin’s three airports were in Dubai last month, talking up the German capital as a network point for regional and international airlines at the 2006 Routes Conference.

The largest low-cost location on the European continent, Berlin surpassed Rome as the third most popular destination in Europe in 2004, and is a throbbing city of restaurants, cinemas, theatres, cafés and bars.
Last summer saw 100 airlines flying out of Schoenefeld, Tegel and Tempelhof airports to approximately 150 destinations in almost 50 countries, including a Qatar Airways connection non-stop from Tegel to Doha. Future plans include the expansion of Schoenfeld into the new capital city airport, Berlin Brandenburg International BBI, construction for which started September 5. KEITH J FERNANDEZ caught up with Berlin Airports’ head of aviation marketing, Burkhard Kieker:

What are your plans to better link Berlin to the Middle East?
Berlin Airports are continuously talking to and negotiating with several airlines in the UAE. Emirates has shown great interest in establishing a non-stop connection to Berlin, but the traffic rights situation currently does not allow for an expansion of the Emirates network in Germany.

What new routes can we expect out of Berlin? What geographical areas are you concentrating on?
Berlin Airports see great potential in the emerging markets in the Middle East and Asia. Opening more direct routes to North America is another important goal. And although Berlin is already very well connected across Europe with its current 122 point-to-point connections, a few new flights in Europe will be part of the network expansion too.

What incentives do you offer new airlines?
Berlin Airports offer incentives to airlines opening new routes as well as incentives depending on an airline’s growth and volume.

How much is Berlin’s growth hampered by Lufthansa’s use of Frankfurt and Munich as hubs?
Germany’s main hubs are and will remain Frankfurt and Munich. However, these two airports already operate at their maximum capacity so Berlin stands a good chance of becoming Germany’s new important hub, especially in regard to Eastern Europe and Asia.

When can we expect to see the new BBI airport open?
That will be November 2011, just in time for the winter schedule. All the air traffic for the Berlin-Brandenburg region will then be concentrated at the airport in the southeast of the city and the inner-city airports of Tegel and Tempelhof will be closed. This concentration of traffic will provide a positive ecological balance compared to the current dismembered system that is a result of the city’s division, and there will be an improvement in space used as well as the noise and traffic burden. An initial capacity of more than 25 million passengers is planned, and depending on passenger development, the airport can be expanded to handle up to 40 million passengers.

Budget airlines in particular (Ryanair, Easyjet) believe that BBI is already financially out-of-date and does not take into account their needs. What do you say?
BBI will be a modern, highly competitive airport and traffic hub, fully equipped with the very best rail and road connections. It is a crucial new addition to Germany’s airports; its outstanding trans-regional importance is a key step in the regeneration of eastern Germany. It is shaped by a decisive cost-consciousness.
The extension will follow a modular plan in line with market demand. Construction costs are below those of comparable projects and low operating costs for the terminal are key planning targets.