Eight years ago I started a blog post with the sentence “My idea of fun is going to the airport”. That is still very true but todays trip is easily one of the more strange airport visits.
I have volunteered to be part of a big test program for the new airport before it opens. That in itself might be interesting to an AvGeek. The “strange” comes in when I explain that I have volunteered for the exact same test at the exact same airport before. More than eight(!) years ago.
My native country of Germany prouds itself with a long engineering tradition. That is why the debacle of the failed opening of BER is very hard to accept. Let’s just say it has not been a good decade for airports in my beloved Big City…
Now I am back. The airport team is pretty confident that they can pull the actual opening of this time, so they called in the troops again. About 400 of us arrive in the morning. We sign-in and get our briefing as well as a bag with accessories for the day. Pen and paper, a lanyard for the security ID, even a little token to unlock the luggage trolleys. And a coffee cup – most important tool for the day.
The organisation of the test day is flawless. I have two “flights” on my schedule. Check-in is fast and efficient and the line at the security checkpoint is quick.
The airport terminal is unused but not new. That leads to a very peculiar kind of ageing. Where you would expect wear and tear on a working airport, you see dust and faded paint. Yellowing plastic wrapping on unused chairs. Instead of the smell of food, people and floor cleaner, the air here is a bit stuffy.
Turning around the corner to my departure gate, it gets even stranger. This is the first addition to the new airport. So the unused airport terminal has an also unused addition which nonetheless looks different. Without signs of use, which would help to identify different periods, this just looks like bad planning.
I’m excited about the new airport. But the back and forth of the last eight years left a mark. It feels a bit like owning a lemon. If too much has gone wrong, you are never quite confident. The trust is gone and you are waiting for the next terrible thing to happen. And after eight years of delays, it is really hard stay patient with the little problems and shortcomings that are unavoidable in any large project.
We can just hope for a successful opening of the airport this time around and many uneventful years to come. After all we have already had enough excitement for one airport lifetime.
To be continued…