Unfinished Berlin Airport BER Costs 20 Million Euros per Month – SPIEGEL ONLINE – Dr Alf’s reflections

Der Spiegel

Der Spiegel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: David Cameron Deutsch: David Cameron

English: David Cameron Deutsch: David Cameron (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is an extremely interesting article in Spiegel and recommended reading. Check it out!

Unfinished Berlin Airport BER Costs 20 Million Euros per Month – SPIEGEL ONLINE.

Reading this article, two threads of thought went through my mind.

Firstly, I could have imagined this article describing the state-of-play in one of the busy airports in David Cameron‘s UK, perhaps, Gatwick, Stanstead or Luton opening a new terminal? In Cameron’s austerity-torn UK, quality is subordinated in favor of crude cost-cutting, rather than state-of-the art innovative design. Since the UK’s airports have been privatized from the public sector, they have had a very mixed record and compare poorly to the major airports of the World, with travelers often having disgraceful delays in airports like Heathrow;  security is often subordinated to rude, unskilled contractors rather than best-practice scanners. Airports in the UK are a “regulated industry” and the model is essentially cost-plus, so airport owners are not properly exposed to competition to improve customer service and reduce costs. Airport operators seem to be more concerned in profiting from a share of airport retailers revenues, rather than in improving the travelers’ experience.

My second thread moved to reflections on German quality. Is the new Berlin airport saga described in Spiegel a symptom of slipping standards in German industry? Is this the beginning of the end for leading German companies who can no longer live up the image projected by their brands? When reflation eventually comes to Germany and costs increase, German industry will have to compete on level playing fields, rather than benefiting from an artificially low Euro. Will European consumers turn against German brands as prices rise?  Perhaps, business schools will write case studies on what went wrong with German industry?

Taking the two threads together, I have a third explanation. Perhaps, in Germany quality assurance is actually working effectively in stopping the new Berlin airport from opening prematurely, disrupting thousands of customers? For sure, in David Cameron’s UK, political expediency would probably prevail and customers would be subordinated.

If I were a betting man (which I am not), I would still put a wager on German industry winning through, in spite of higher costs. On the other hand, I would be cautious of UK industry’s opportunities in global markets. In David Cameron’s UK, there is no industry strategy which dovetails with policies to improve the skills of the UK’s labor-force; far too much weight is still put on financial services, where the big banks operate an oligopoly and customers suffer. For me, David Cameron’s government is fixated with austerity, and ignores strategy, risk, innovation and improving skills of the UK’s workforce; if you doubt me, think about language training for the BRICS markets and professional selling skills. Look to the evidence, with UK companies still hording cash rather than investing in capital spending and creating new jobs.

My conclusion would be don’t be too quick in  laughing at Berlin’s new airport. Perhaps, Berliners don’t really have egg on their faces and will have the last laugh?

Any thoughts?

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9 responses

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  5. Alf, Thanks for highlighting this interesting article.

    Whilst one off experiences are not always a good guide to the general, I do recall a good friend who had the unfortunate luck to have a motorcycle accident whilst in Germany. His three day stay in a German hospital could not have been different to my own experience in the UK.

    He had clean wards, motivated staff, fast services and at the end of his stay was presented with a copy of his hospital notes translated into English to take back to his own GP. Furthermore, the public service system was coordinated enough for him to simultaneously receive an invoice for the roadside barrier damaged during his accident.

    Any chance that the NHS could be outsourced to a German company?

    Have a great week,


    • Adam,

      Many thanks for your posting.

      I very much agree with your comments.

      I had an experience where I could have lost my sight in one eye had it not been for me seeing an eye specialist in an eye hospital in Paris at midnight. A few days earlier my local A&E in Bath missed the seriousness of the condition – I saw a doctor for less than a minute and all his tests were superficial; my story was ten years ago, pre-austerity.

      Thank goodness Germany still sets the gold standard for quality

      Have a great week


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  7. I find this surprising and rare and a one off.

    In nearly every other field of endeavour the Germans operate efficiently and deliver on time and to budget with the best engineers in the world.

    For the past 22 years, with two exceptions I have owned a Mercedes Benz and can attest to the robustness and overall reliability of the marque as one of the world,s greatest.

    The Berlin airport will be built and built to a very high standard.

    When it is the security will be efficient and the airport passport screening staff will be much more on the mark than our own former Borders Agency staff.

    Doubtless lessons will be learnt as the Germans will not want to be tarred with the same reputation as the UK for low productivity(20th in the world), poor planning, inadequate infrastructure, an education system which at state level is 44th in the world, just 400 world class companies out of 6 million and a Prime Minister who gratuitously annoys his own supporters,insults the Chinese publicly whilst seeking their investment, is lazy and constantly on holiday.

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