Is this the man to save Berlin airport?

Hopes of saving Berlin’s new international airport have fallen on the shoulders of a Siemens engineer. Jörg Marks was named technical director of the disastrous project on Wednesday and said completing the €5-billion airport was “technologically feasible”.

Is this the man to save Berlin airport?
Jörg Marks is charged with fixing the airport's smoke extraction system. Photo: DPA

Marks was appointed technical director of the massively over budget and long-delayed Berlin Brandenburg Airport after his predecessor, Jochen Großmann, was fired in a corruption probe amid allegations he demanded a €500,000 bribe from a potential contractor.

The 46-year-old’s main task will be working out how to fix the airport’s fire safety system. The smoke extraction system has caused chaos in the terminal building. It is supposed to pump out smoke in the event of a fire, but engineers believe it will not work properly, thereby trapping smoke in the building with thousands of passengers.

It is a task Marks should be familiar with – at Siemens the engineer has been involved with part of the airport’s failed fire safety system since 2008.

“It is not impossible,” he told Tagesspiegel newspaper. “It is technologically feasible. I think you have to take it step by step.”

The father-of-one told the newspaper he took the job because he wanted to see the airport, which was supposed to open two years ago, “finally completed”.

“I have been following the project at a certain distance for a long time in my role as head of building in the eastern region for Siemens," he said. "It has always rankled me that certain things have not been done."

Marks, who is originally from Hamburg, has been charged by the airport’s chief executive Hartmut Mehdorn with one of the toughest jobs in Germany – the “safe completion and commissioning of the Berlin Brandenburg Airport”.

The airport currently has no completion date and is expected to need at least another €1 billion.

In a parting statement on Marks' departure, Siemens board member Roland Busch praised the “expertise” of the engineer. 

SEE ALSO: When did Germans forget how to build?

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Oslo Airport sees uptick in arrivals ahead of new Covid-19 quarantine rules

Oslo's Gardermoen airport, the largest in Norway, has seen passengers move their trips forward to avoid incoming tightening of Covid-19 entry quarantine rules.

Oslo Airport sees uptick in arrivals ahead of new Covid-19 quarantine rules
AFP PHOTO / Hakon Mosvold Larsen (Photo by Hakon Mosvold Larsen / SCANPIX NORWAY / AFP)

The municipal director who is responsible for the quarantine hotels in Ullensaker, where the airport is located, confirmed the trend to newspaper VG.

“We had a relatively tough weekend, because we believe that those who have become aware that they would be put into quarantine hotels have now arrived much earlier, at the beginning of the Easter holidays,” municipal director Gunhild Grimstad-Kirkeby told VG.

New quarantine hotel rules come into effect from Monday, meaning that anybody arriving in Norway on trips that aren’t considered necessary foreign travel will have to check into quarantine hotels. The rules will tighten further on April 1st.

The earliest opportunity to leave the quarantine hotel would be 7 days after arriving and only if you return a negative test. Previously, Norwegian citizens and residents were allowed to quarantine at home.

The latest government information on rules relating to coronavirus quarantine hotels can be found in English here.


Ullensaker has opened an additional quarantine hotel to help it cope with demand. Grimstad-Kirkeby estimated that there are 1,000-2,000 people currently in quarantine hotels around Oslo Airport Gardermoen.

“It was high pressure on Friday, a little less on Saturday and a little less on Sunday. If I am to assume based on the forecasts I have received there will be a decline in arrivals on Monday (when the new rules come into place),” she said.

Travelers at the hotels must pay a 500 kroner per-day subsidy for adults and 250 kroner per-day subsidy for children aged between 10-18.

On April 1st those arriving in Norway must also provide a negative PCR test that has been taken within 24 hours of their departure flight. Once in Norway, they must take a rapid coronavirus test at the airport or border and wait at the test station until the result is returned. If they are travelling for non-essential reasons, they will be required to quarantine regardless of test results.

Foreign nationals who are unable to meet the requirements will be denied entry and Norwegian citizens and residents will receive fines, Justice Minister, Monica Mæland, told VG. Mæland also said there has been a slight increase in travel activity this Easter.

“We meet this (increased travel) with stricter rules. Some disagree and some still travel, we must have a system in place to ensure that we do not get increased infection rates after Easter,” she said.

“The police will decide the size of the fine in each individual case, and there can be imprisonment for up to six months. We have seen examples of some quite hefty fines already. We will do everything we can to prevent import infection,” she said in regard to the potential punishments for those who break the new rules.