Air Berlin Sues Over Delayed Opening of Capital’s Airport

Air Berlin Plc (AB1) sued Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH, the operator of the German capital’s airport, for what could amount to tens of millions of euros over a 16- month delay to the opening of the airline’s new hub.

The airline is seeking an order from a court in Potsdam, Germany, holding Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg liable for any damages caused by the delay, Air Berlin said in an e-mailed statement today.

“In the past months, we held intensive talks with the airport to reach a solution acceptable for both sides,” Air Berlin Chief Executive Officer Hartmut Mehdorn said in the statement. “In spite of extensive efforts by Air Berlin, this wasn’t reached.”

The facility, which will serve as Air Berlin’s main hub, was supposed to begin operations on June 3. The opening was delayed after the original fire-safety provisions proved inadequate and is now scheduled to start operations on Oct. 27, 2013.

Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg said in a statement that it isn’t liable for any of Air Berlin’s costs because contracts didn’t promise a fixed date for the new airport.

Air Berlin had added more than 230 flights per week to its summer schedule based on the new airport opening in June. It costs significantly more to handle the same number of planes at the existing facilities at Tegel Airport in Berlin, the airline said.

The airport knows about the inconveniences the delay has caused above all for Air Berlin and is trying to beef up processing at Tegel, Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg said.

The damages so far are likely to be in a high, double-digit million euro amount, Air Berlin said. The costs are still mounting and a final estimate won’t be available until the new airport opens, said Mathias Radowski, a spokesman for Air Berlin.

Ralf-Dietrich Schulz, a spokesman for the Potsdam Regional Court, confirmed that the suit was filed.

To contact the reporter on this story: Karin Matussek in Berlin at kmatussek@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@Bloomberg.net.

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