As the EU’s self-appointed morality police, Germany publicly spanked Greece earlier this month for being so financially frivolous. Well, Germany has its own money troubles! Namely, a catastrophe-riddled $6 billion airport that the country continues to pour money into—with no opening date in sight. Scheiße!
This week’s Businessweek engages in some A+ finger-pointing to call out this German boondoggle that’s an affront to a culture known for its precision and efficiency.
Everything was going great with the design and construction of the Berlin Brandenburg International Willy Brandt Airport until some higher-ups caught wind of the Airbus A380—the fancy extra-large double-decker jetliner which requires much larger gate infrastructure. A mandate was issued to make the airport bigger, dammit, including tearing out an already finished terminal wall. Even though no airlines had committed to bringing the A380 to Berlin, the under-construction airport grew more and more ambitious, with the size—and costs—ballooning into a bureaucratic nightmare:
The architecture and engineering teams fought to keep up. As the terminal ballooned from 200,000 to 340,000 square meters (dwarfing Frankfurt’s 240,000 and just shy of Heathrow Terminal 5’s 353,000), they parceled out the work to seven contractors. That soon grew to 35, and they brought in hundreds of subcontractors, says Delius. Several engineering and electronics companies, led by the German giants Siemens and Bosch, struggled to retain control over the complex fire protection system that included 3,000 fire doors, 65,000 sprinklers, thousands of smoke detectors, a labyrinth of smoke evacuation ducts, and the equivalent of 55 miles of cables.