Berlin mayor survives confidence vote over airport delays

12th January 2013, Comments 0 comments

Berlin's mayor on Saturday survived a confidence vote put forward by opposition parties despite calls for him to step down over a series of embarrassing delays to the opening of the city's new airport.

Members from Klaus Wowereit's coalition -- made up of centre-left Social Democrats from the mayor's own party, and the conservative Christian Democratic Union -- rallied to keep Wowereit in the post he has held since 2001, with 85 voting in support of the mayor and 62 against.

The Berlin-Brandenburg airport was due to open its doors in June 2012 but has suffered multiple delays due to a raft of technical difficulties and construction errors.

On Monday, Wowereit announced that a rescheduled opening in October 2013 would be postponed indefinitely over a further series of technical issues.

The mess has considerably tarnished the image of the 59-year-old, a one-time hopeful for his party's leadership who was credited with helping turn Berlin into a popular tourist destination which draws millions of visitors each year.

While Wowereit has so far refused to resign as Berlin's mayor, he did step down from his position as head of the airport's supervisory board as a result.

Due to be named after former chancellor Willy Brandt, the new airport will eventually replace Berlin's two existing airports, Tegel in the northwest of the city, and the southeastern-located Schoenefeld, which is where the new facility is being built. Together the two existing airports handle 24 million passengers a year.

The new airport was designed to finally end the vestiges of Berlin's Cold War division and deal with a sharp rise in air traffic to the region in the two decades since the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification.

It will aim to be Germany's third largest airport, after Frankfurt and Munich.

© 2013 AFP

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