BER Spokesman Turfed Out For Stating The Obvious

Open Jaw

He may have said what everyone else is thinking, but when you’re a PR person, that can get you fired. And it did.

The (now former) spokesman for Berlin’s Brandenberg Airport -- billions of euros over budget and years behind schedule -- has been sent packing for saying that the project was “shit” and “no one can guarantee” that it will ever open.

He probably wasn’t the right man for the job.

In an interview with a PR industry magazine, Daniel Abbou said it was time for the airport’s managers to start “telling the truth” and that Berliners had “a right to know where their taxes were going.”

After years when politicians and the airport’s management had dismissed any talk of difficulties, Abbou said: “I have no interest to keep under wraps what… [others] have screwed up. Until now it was mostly said: ‘No, everything’s fine’. But that’s bullshit.”

The Guardian reports that Abbou took up the post at what has been described as Germany’s most embarrassing planning disaster in January, as part of the latest drive to reinvigorate the project.

BER was originally due to open in 2012 as the crowning glory of a reunified Germany. However, it has still not been completed and is now likely to cost at least €6.5 billion instead of the €1.7 billion projected in 2004.

The project has been beset by problems. At one point, a technical difficulty led to no one being able to turn off the electricity on site, meaning lights were left on for days.

Following the missed opening date in 2012, many of those involved, from engineers to architects, were summarily dismissed. That led to more disarray, with much of the project’s accumulated knowledge gone.

On 22APR, the airport’s chief executive, Karsten Mühlenfeld, is due to announce the new date on which it should open. He is expected to say that BER will be ready by the end of 2017.

In his magazine interview, Abbou scoffed at the prospect of new promises: “No one, unless he is addicted to drugs, will give you any fixed guarantees for this airport.”

But Sebastian Czaja from the Free Democratic party told Bild: “Finally someone has said what everyone’s been thinking all along.”

Andreas Otto of the Green party told the newspaper: “It’s incomprehensible that openness and transparency should be punished.”

(will not be published)