Climate activists disrupt opening of new Berlin airport

By Klaus Lauer BERLIN (Reuters) - Climate activists sought to disrupt the long-delayed opening of Berlin's new airport on Saturday, one gluing himself to the door of a plane, others scaling the terminal to hang placards and many crowding the building dressed as penguins. The opening of the Berlin-Brandenburg Willy Brandt airport - to be known by its BER code - comes as the global aviation industry struggles with a dearth of travellers due to the coronavirus pandemic

Reuters November 01, 2020 00:12:43 IST
Climate activists disrupt opening of new Berlin airport

Climate activists disrupt opening of new Berlin airport

By Klaus Lauer

BERLIN (Reuters) - Climate activists sought to disrupt the long-delayed opening of Berlin's new airport on Saturday, one gluing himself to the door of a plane, others scaling the terminal to hang placards and many crowding the building dressed as penguins.

The opening of the Berlin-Brandenburg Willy Brandt airport - to be known by its BER code - comes as the global aviation industry struggles with a dearth of travellers due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Construction on the new airport began in 2006 and it was originally due to open in 2011. But construction problems and technical issues saw the date pushed back repeatedly, a major embarrassment that dented Germany's reputation for efficiency.

The delays left Berlin relying on two outdated and crowded Cold War-era airports: Tegel, which served the west of the city, and Schoenefeld, which was once Communist East Berlin's airport and which has been integrated into the new facility.

"The time for jokes about the BER must be over now," said Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer, adding that the country needed to start a new "economic miracle" like the one seen in Germany after World War Two to recover from the pandemic.

The first plane to land was an Easyjet flight, a special service that took off from Tegel on the other side of the city. That airport will close next weekend. A Lufthansa plane landed minutes later.

Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr told a news conference the crisis in the industry would last a long time: "We must be realistic. It will take until the middle of the decade at the earliest until we reach the level of 2019 again."

A video distributed by the Extinction Rebellion environmental group showed a protester gluing himself to the door of a Pegasus plane, while other demonstrators hung a sign from the steps to the plane reading: "We want to live".

Earlier, dozens of activists - many dressed in penguin suits - protested inside and outside the new airport carrying signs with slogans like "Flying is so yesterday" and "BER opening cancelled due to the climate crisis".

Berlin's airports expect just 10 million passengers to land in the German capital this year, compared with 36 million last year. BER's current capacity is 40 million.

Because of the pandemic, Easyjet is cutting its fleet based in Berlin to 18 planes from 34 and cutting 418 out of around 1,500 employees, while another 320 staff will work shorter hours until next June.

The crisis is also increasing the financial woes of the new airport, which is owned by the federal government and the states of Berlin and Brandenburg, and cost nearly 6 billion euros ($7.1 billion), roughly three times the initial budget.

(Additional reporting by Ilona Wissenbach, writing by Emma Thomasson; Editing by James Drummond and Christina Fincher)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

U.S. job openings rise slightly in September
Business

U.S. job openings rise slightly in September

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. job openings increased moderately in September and layoffs appeared to abate, pointing to a gradual labor market recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Central bankers seek new role in brave new world
Business

Central bankers seek new role in brave new world

By Balazs Koranyi and Francesco Canepa FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Taking a break from fighting the coronavirus crisis, the world's top central bankers will attempt to resolve the existential questions of their profession this week as they tune into the European Central Bank's annual policy symposium. Having struggled to lift anaemic inflation for years, officials including the heads of the ECB, the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of England will attempt to figure out why monetary policy is not working as it used to and what new role they must play in a changed world - be it fighting inequality or climate change.

Asian stocks extend gains as vaccine hopes support global reopening
Business

Asian stocks extend gains as vaccine hopes support global reopening

By Lawrence Delevingne BOSTON (Reuters) - Asian shares rose on Wednesday as hopes for a successful coronavirus vaccine lifted expectations of a swift reopening of the global economy, which would help the region's heavily trade-dependent markets.