Sunday, November 20, 2011

Berlin Airport Protest

Yesterday was my first German protest. After a little sightseeing we went by the Brandenburg Gate to see what was going on. About 10,000 people came to protest against the night time flight plans that will go in to effect once the new Berlin Brandenburg International Airport (BER) starts operating in 2012.

The current international airport is Berlin Tegel (TXL), located about 8 km (5 miles) northwest of the central Berlin. Last year, Tegel served over 15 million passengers making it the 4th busiest airport in Germany (and Europe's 13th busiest).

Tegel is scheduled to close on June 3, 2012 which is when Brandenburg will open. Brandenburg is located in Schönfeld, about 18 km (11 miles) from central Berlin, and will incorporate some of the infrastructure at the existing Schönfeld airport. The new airport will be able to handle 27 million passengers per year and will become Germany's 3rd busiest airport. Construction costs for BER are €2.5 billion (+$3.2 billion).

Brandenburg International will receive the secondary name "Willy Brandt airport" named after the former West German chancellor, mayor of West Berlin and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. The airport will be a hub for Airberlin, Germania, Easyjet, Germanwings and Lufthansa.

Due to noise abatement regulations, flights are banned between midnight and 5 AM. Everyone at the demonstration was protesting the increased noise and pollution. No one wants planes flying over their houses at night. The demonstrators want a complete ban on flights from 10 PM to 6 AM.

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