“All Berlin-Brandenburg Airport, All The Time”? You could be forgiven for thinking so. Or consider the alternate, “natural progression” perspective: what first was but a tweet engendered a post amplifying that tweet – and now just one more to show how crazy things have become.
We need to remember that, in the first place, this is all about the Germans (!) really messing up a major engineering project, one that directly involves their capital. Is that “man-bites-dog” or what? I can’t believe that this has not attracted more attention from the press outside Germany! It’s not like you can keep the lid on news like this in today’s day & age. This could well turn out to be a highly instructive test-case on how to ensure the rest of the world is content to remain ignorant when you have news that you would just as soon not spread – if only I could distill the key lessons.
But that’s not what this post is about. Some extra crazy has popped up, in none other than the German newspaper of record, the FAZ. There author and journalist Ralph Bollmann urges the Berlin authorities to Lass es bleiben – Let it be! He ain’t exactly trying to channel the Beatles; he is actually urging the abandonment of that Berlin-Brandenburg airport project, which was supposed to have opened to the public about a month from now!
Why on earth? He actually lists ten arguments; let me just mention the highlights:
- Better to just stop this unending nightmare: Schrecken ohne Ende. A number of factors have convinced Bollmann that just starting to use the new airport will soon bring one new problem after another – for instance, it will have too little capacity from the very get-go, yet will be almost impossible to enlarge further.
- Tegel is better: That’s Berlin’s Tegel airport, of course, on the west side of town, famously built in a hurry (90 days for the first runway) during the Berlin Blockade to expand vital airport capacity. Even more interesting – I had not picked up this fact – is that Tegel was supposed to be closed at around the same time the new BER opened! (Obviously, those plans have been put on hold.) Right now Tegel is merely Berlin’s main airport, and the fourth-biggest in Germany! I think Bollmann zeroes in on why Tegel must die with his sentence “Back then [the early 1970s, when Tegel was upgraded to what it is today] architects didn’t build a shopping mall, just an airport.”
- Riding by train is more comfortable: Amen to that. Too much time lost travelling to, getting “screened” at, etc. the airport.
- Only poor people fly to Berlin: Incoming passangers to Berlin have doubled in ten years, Bollmann writes – but are these new visitors the kind Berliners really want to see? “Exiles from Schwabia, party-goers from all of Europe, recently unemployed Spaniards.”
- Templehof deserves another chance: This is rather surprising to read. The old Templehof airport is famous from the Airlift, but it sits right in the middle of the city, among dense urban areas. What’s more, there was a referendum a few years ago about shutting it down – and it passed! So that decision has already been made.
- Put Nature back: Apparently the route south from the Berlin city center that the new airport now blocks was a favorite for heading out to commune with nature on weekends and holidays. So demolish the airport!
So there you are: quite the mix of the reasonable (first three) and the insane (last three). Still, maybe he has a point: it would have been better just to expand Tegel, as well as to further encourage train over air transportation.
And just who is this Ralph Bollmann, anyway? Turns out he’s a fairly prominent journalist and commentator, with a side-line in writing history books about the Roman Empire. So he’s familiar with grandiose projects, and he’s familiar with the imperial hubris often associated with them.