I travel by air three or four times a week. This has made me rejoice each time the opening date of the new airport was moved further back. For the closure of Tegel Airport would force me to get up 45 minutes earlier to get to the new airport in time, and would double my cab fare. I have passed through any number of airports on the planet, but Tegel remains the finest of them all. From my office close to Kurfürstendamm, it is just 15 minutes to the airport and another two minutes to get to the gate. Unlike Munich, where you sometimes spend an hour in the cab, followed by 20 minutes of walking inside the terminal. While privately gleeful over having the continued use of Tegel Airport, I’m of course peeved as a taxpayer and Berlin resident by the disastrous delays in the completion of the new airport. For me, it is another example of what happens when you entrust business matters to politicians and civil servants.
On more than one occasion in recent months, people voiced their doubts that Schönefeld Airport will ever come on-stream. Which is a silly thing to say. Of course it will open sooner or later. And far-sighted real estate investors are preparing for the day well ahead of time.
Ekkehard Streletzki, owner of the most successful – and with 1,125 rooms largest – hotel in Germany, the Estrel hotel in Berlin Neukölln, originally raised the hotel because Eberhard Diepgen, Lord Mayor of Berlin at the time, told him that Berlin’s new mega-airport would be opened by 1996/1997 at the latest. No one would have thought at the time that it was going to take another 20 years. Streletzki recently announced that he is planning to add an annex with another 800 rooms to his hotel, and to expand its convention centre, again in anticipation of the airport’s completion.
Remember Sergio Leone’s classic western “Once upon a Time in the West”? In the film, a clever Irishman buys a piece of land in the middle of the desert and calls it Sweetwater. Everyone ridicules him, no one comprehends. But he knows that a railroad would one day pass right through it, and that his land would gain tremendously in value. Far-sighted investors are developing residential and commercial units in Adlershof today, among them Rolf Lechner of immexa, Dr. Michael Held of Terragon and the Munich-based property company Baywobau. Anyone buying or renting property close to the new airport now, meaning before the airport is factored into the prices, will surely not regret the decision later on.
While I personally dread the day the new airport will open because I’m a frequent flyer, our city is sure to gain even further in attractiveness. Since many have begun to doubt that the airport will ever be completed, and since no one can say for sure just when it will open for business, prices for plots and properties in areas that stand to benefit from the future airport remain affordable for the time being. As I said, the airport has yet to be factored into the prices.