This Airport is the Contender for the World's Worst - Here's Why

Construction ground Berlin Brandenburg Airport
Construction ground Berlin Brandenburg Airport | © Robert Aehnelt/WikiCommons
Alice Dundon

Germany’s reputation for punctuality and efficiency is taking an embarrassing hit, thanks to ongoing delays and construction issues at the capital’s new airport. The Berlin Brandenburg Airport was supposed to be the city’s aviation crown jewel, but the ongoing saga continues as the proposed opening date is pushed back a further two years to October 2020. As construction costs soar, corruption scandals erupt and the opening dates continue to be pushed back, the Berlin Brandenburg Airport remains an unmitigated fiasco for the German government.

How it all started

After the Berlin Wall fell and Germany reunified, it became clear that the city was in need of a modern international airport. Berlin’s two in use airports, Berlin-Tegel and Berlin-Schönefeld, were showing their age and limitations in a world where air traffic grew dramatically. So planning for Berlin Brandenburg Airport began and in 2006 construction got underway for the proposed space that sat adjacent to Schönefeld Airport. The grand opening of Berlin Brandenburg Airport was planned for June 2012, however, last-minute technical issues saw the first major setback in what would be a series of embarrassing mistakes.

Aerial view of Berlin-Tegel International Airport

What went so wrong?

Since the first opening was pushed back in 2012, the airport has been plagued by a string of technical issues, such as wiring that overheated, escalators that were too short and serious structural problems. Overall, the construction work fell disastrously short of regulatory requirements and many of the airport’s original elements had to be started from scratch. As if these technical issues weren’t enough, the project has also been subject to allegations of corruption, a number of legal disputes and financial constraints, leaving many asking how this project went so horribly wrong.

Airport Berlin Brandenburg with terminal building. Under construction, taken on open day event

The Cost

Budgeting issues also continue to be a source of woe for the project managers and the German government. The vexing airport was originally meant to cost €2.83 billion ($3.46 billion), according to a 2006 estimate, however, by late 2012, the projected had already spent €4.3 billion ($5.26 billion). Total costs rose to €6.9 billion ($8.44 billion) in 2016, and a further €1 billion ($1.22 billion) could be needed to complete the project by 2020. Altogether this puts the airport at least €5 billion ($6.11 billion) over budget. Meanwhile, former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit, who famously described Berlin as ‘poor but sexy,’ was forced to resign in part because of the embarrassing muddle that has ensued with Berlin’s ‘new’ airport. In the wake of this delay, construction companies, taxi firms and shops have gone into bankruptcy, and according to top German tabloid Bild, the airport is costing the German taxpayer €25 million ($30 million) a month.

Berlin Brandenburg Airport

Next Opening Date

Although many opening dates have come and gone, there is hope that the latest proposed grand opening, October 2020, will be the final one that is announced. After years of struggle, drama and bizarre issues, everyone is waiting with bated breath to see if the Berlin Brandenburg Airport can continue forward without any more costly mistakes.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.