Plans for a new single airport for Berlin started directly after reunification. First, Sperenberg in Brandenburg, 50km south of the city, was the preferred location. Then in 1996 a committee made up of federal and municipal government officials decided to build the airport in Schönefeld for its proximity to the city, which they hoped would help create jobs and strengthen Berlin’s economy.
There were also ecological factors (Sperenberg lies in the middle of woods), as well as the possibility of using the existing structures of Schönefeld Airport. It was acknowledged from the beginning though that Sperenberg was a better choice when it came to the amount of people exposed to aircraft noise.
Construction started in September 2006, and there have been protests ever since, as well as several lawsuits filed by citizens, most of them rejected. One small victory came in 2006 however, when Germany’s federal administrative court banned flights between 12am and 5am. Resident protests also resulted in the formation of a flight noise commission and a revision of routes.
In January 2012 the DFS announced the final plans: planes will start in straight lines and then, depending on the direction of the wind, cross either Blankenfelde and then fly above Wannsee, Kleinmachnow, Teltow and Lichterfelde, or go over Müggelsee. The latter has been the most controversial route, since it was announced late and is not only going to affect the city environmentally but also leaves the largest number of citizens affected by noise.