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Firms behind Berlin airport offered million-euro bonuses

Karsten Mühlenfeld, the head of the state-owned company responsible for Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER), told Bild am Sonntag that construction companies were being offered financial incentives to speed up their work on the building so that it can be opened by the end of 2017.

According to Tagesspiegel, the potential bonuses add up to around €10 million. Each construction company could receive around €1 million.

Costs for BER, which was supposed to open in 2011, have skyrocketed from an original projection of €2.5 billion to €6.4 billion.

The bonuses will only be paid if the passenger terminal is ready by July 2017.

News that companies which have participated in a project dogged by scandal, corruption and delays could receive such bonuses met with immediate criticism from members of the Berlin Senate.

“I have a few questions for the airport hierarchy that I won’t be saying in public,” said Berlin finance minister Christian Görke of Die Linke (The Left Party).

Berlin authorities have pledged that the airport will open in 2017, six years behind schedule. A major cause of the delay has been problems with fire detection systems which did not meet national fire safety standards.

An internal report seen by Bild earlier in the year suggests that the airport is unlikely to open before 2019, with work currently crawling along at a snail’s pace.

One former project planner for the airport has even suggested that the airport will never open due to complications involved in rebuilding its fire safety systems.

On social media, news of the bonuses was met with ridicule.

“Airport: ‘The building should have been ready in 2012’. Builders: ‘But, fire safety…’ Airport: ‘And if we give a bonus?’ Builders: ‘Done!'” tweeted Happynator.

Der Humour-Austicker commented “Construction companies set to receive millions in bonuses if BER is finished by the end of next year… at least botching things pays.”

Article source: http://www.thelocal.de/20161121/berlin-airport-hopes-to-speed-opening-with-cash-bonuses