Insolvency adds to troubles at Berlin's delayed airport project

Insolvency adds to troubles at Berlin's delayed airport project
7 August 2015

Image
Berlin Brandenburg Airport - © Ralf Hirschberger, EPA

Berlin (dpa) - The troubled project to build a new airport for Germany's capital has hit a fresh snag, with a key contractor filing for insolvency, just as hopes were rising that Berlin Brandenburg Airport was on track to open in late 2017.

Designed to become a major European hub, the airport was scheduled to open in 2011 before building inspectors ruled that its automatic fire-safety system was substandard. Since then, large parts of the glass-covered terminal's cabling have been ripped out and replaced.

A city legislator who is heading an inquiry into the bungles said Friday that the insolvency of Imtech, a contractor for electrical wiring, plumbing and ventilation, would upset the rebuilding plan. "I consider the opening date as very much at risk," said Martin Delius, a member of the opposition Pirate Party in the city legislature. Imtech Deutschland, a German subsidiary of Dutch-owned Royal Imtech NV, filed the previous day with a court for protection from its creditors.

Berlin Brandenburg Airport is being built at Schoenefeld, outside the city to the south-west on a site already being used by a shabby, communist-built airport with limited facilities. It will replace Tegel Airport near the city centre which has no room to expand. The six-year delay, substandard design, cost overruns and evidence of bribes for contracts at the airport have become a national embarrassment for Germany. Outwardly, the terminal, aprons, an underground railway station and hotels are complete.

Karsten Muehlenfeld, the airport chief, said work to redistribute wiring was advanced, but other internal repairs were lagging. Imtech's parent said Thursday at Gouda in the Netherlands it was reviewing what to do next. The airport company said it was urgently checking if Imtech's new status would affect progress.

In Germany, judges often respond to an insolvency filling by directing a company to continue operating under a court-supervised administrator while negotiations with creditors on a haircut proceed.

Source: dpa