BERLIN, March 6 Engelbert Luetke Daldrup has
been named chief executive of Berlin's much delayed new airport
after the supervisory board decided to replace Karsten
Muehlenfeld following a row over the firing of the project's
Berlin Mayor Michael Mueller, who is chairman of the
airport's supervisory board, said on Monday that Daldrup, who
was deputy minister for strategies for Berlin and airport policy
in Berlin's regional government, would succeed Muehlenfeld.
The new international airport has been beset by delays
caused by red tape and technical problems such as with smoke
ventilation systems, cabling and the doors.
In January, Muehlenfeld scrapped plans to open the airport
at the end of 2017 and has yet to set a new date.
Without seeking the approval of the airport supervisory
board, Muehlenfeld last week replaced the airport's technical
chief, Joerg Marks, with outsider and former Deutsche Bahn
manager Christoph Bretschneider.
The airport's management has said the decision was within
its mandate and that it informed the supervisory board a day in
The supervisory board, made up of labour representatives and
politicians representing the federal state owners, met late on
Wednesday to discuss the issue but broke off talks after they
failed to reach a decision.
Some politicians and airline representatives had called for
Muehlenfeld to remain in place to avoid further delays.
Muehlenfeld had defended the replacement of Marks, saying he
took the decision in order to move the airport construction
along faster and so he could deliver a reliable opening date.
The German capital is served by two former cold war airports
- Tegel in the north west of Berlin and Schoenefeld to the south
Tegel is due to close once the new airport opens but by the
time that happens it will be too small to meet passenger demand.
Tegel and Schoenefeld served 33 million passengers last year
while the new hub is set for initial capacity of 27 million,
though the airport company says it can be expanded to serve up
to 45 million passengers.
Germany's largest airport in Frankfurt served just under 61
million passengers last year.
Ryanair, which flies out of Schoenefeld, has called for
Tegel to remain open. The Irish low cost carrier is keen to grow
in Berlin but says it is struggling to get approval for more
flights from Schoenefeld due to lack of capacity.
It will be the third new CEO for the troubled project since
the departure of long-term head Rainer Schwarz in 2013. Under
his watch the airport called off a planned June 2012 opening
date with just three weeks' notice.
(Reporting by Victoria Bryan and Markus Wacket,; Writing by
Michelle Martin, editing by Ed Osmond)