German court gives green light to Berlin airport

16th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

16 March 2006, BERLIN - The German capital's new airport was given a final go-ahead Thursday after a court dismissed lawsuits by 4,000 people living near where it is due to be built south of Berlin.

16 March 2006

BERLIN - The German capital's new airport was given a final go-ahead Thursday after a court dismissed lawsuits by 4,000 people living near where it is due to be built south of Berlin.

The decision by a federal court in Leipzig on the 2 billion euro (2.4 billion dollar) project cannot be appealed, ending a legal battle that had gone on for more than a decade.

Having championed the building of the new airport, Berlin's Mayor Klaus Wowereit described the court's ruling as a milestone.

"This is the most important decision of my time as mayor," said Wowereit.

Echoing his remarks, Chancellor Angela Merkel said the airport would represent an important economic impulse for Berlin and the surrounding state of Brandenburg saying she expected the building work to begin as soon as possible.

Residents near Schoenefeld, where the airport is to be sited, had told the court they feared noise pollution and other problems from the mega-airport.

The court took into account some of these reservations and ordered the operators of the airport to introduce measures to reduce noise levels from jets and ban flights at night.

"The airport can be built as planned, but with major improvements for noise reduction and a ban on night flights from midnight until 5 a.m." said presiding Judge Stefan Paetow.

Leaders of Berlin have been trying to get a new airport for the city since the 1990 German reunification in a bid to establish the once divided capital as a major air transport hub and boost its attractiveness as a place to invest.

But a series of blunders and scandals hindered earlier plans for a private consortium to build the Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport.

"The verdict sends a positive signal to investors," said the Berlin chamber of commerce and industry. A statement said the airport would give an impetus to the economy and could eventually lead to the creation of 40,000 jobs.

"It's not a bad verdict," said Ralf Kunkel, a spokesman for the airport's operators. But Doris Lohse, one of the residents involved in lawsuit, did not share this view, saying "we've been made fools of again."

The state-of-the-art airport, which is due to open in 2011, will replace the city's three existing airports, all of which are to be closed.

The current three airports include Tegel, in former West Berlin which has the most flights. The ex-East German airport at Schoenefeld is served by mainly low-cost airlines. A handful of regional flights depart from a city airport, Tempelhof, which was built under the Nazis.

The new airport will be built south of the existing Schoenefeld airport and will have two runways of 3,600 metres and 4,000 metres. The terminal will be located between the runways and include an underground train station.

Planned for 22 million passengers annually, the new airport has provisions so it can easily be expanded to 30 million passengers.

But despite ambitious plans for Berlin's airport, there is almost no chance it will ever rival Frankfurt, Munich or even Dusseldorf as a main German global and regional hub.

DPA

Subject: German news

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