BERLIN (Reuters) - 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 construction head.
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 advance.
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 east.
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