Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) opens on June 3

Berlin Brandenburg Airport terminal cross-section

ABOVE: A cross-section of the BER Terminal. Click for a larger image. (Rendering: gmp Architekten, JSK International/Björn Roll/Berlin Brandenburg Airport.)

After decades of being a big city with small airports, Berlin is moving into the modern transportation age with Berlin Brandenburg Airport, a.k.a. Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt (after the late Geman chancellor and former mayor of West Berlin).

BER, located on the site of the old East German Schönefeld Airport, has been under construction since 2006 and is scheduled to open on June 3, 2012. The airport will have two parallel runways, with the terminal located between the runways to save space and reduce noise.

All domestic, European, and intercontinental flights will arrive and depart from a single building with enough space--and enough gates--to handle up to 27 million passengers per year. (The airport's design by Von Gerkan, Marg and Partners Architects, a.k.a. GMP, allows for "Expansion Modules" that can increase capacity to 45 million passengers per year if needed.) 

Trains will leave the airport for Berlin's city center every 15 minutes, with a travel time of less than half an hour and a fare of only 3 euros. A bicycle path will also connect the airport with the city.

Kirsen Schmidt of KMS Communications writes: 

"Architecture fans and airport buffs who would like to follow the final stages of construction can participate in guided tours or take a fascinating look behind the scenes of the existing Schönefeld Airport with the help of a live airport Webcam. In addition, an info tower, standing 105 feet (32 meters) tall, will offer an outstanding view of what is currently the biggest and most exciting construction site in the Berlin region."

For more information about the airport (including tour reservatins), visit To plan a trip to Berlin, go to

More pictures:

BER terminal

The BER terminal is said to be "all about clarity and clean, geometric lines, channeling the timeless beauty of the 1926 Bauhaus in Dessau." (Rendering: gmp Architekten, JSK International/Björn Roll/Berlin Brandenburg Airport.)

Berlin Brandenburg Airport map

Click here for a larger view of the new airport's layout. (Map: Björn Roll/Berlin Brandenburg Airport.)

Hotel Steigenberger at Berlin Brandengburg Airport

A 322-room Steigenberger Hotel is being built directly opposite the terminal in BER's Airport City shopping and "urban services" complex. (Rendering: ECE/Berlin Brandenburg Airport.)

Autolib' car sharing electrifies driving in Paris

Autolib' station in Paris

ABOVE: An "Espace Autolib'" in Paris. (Some stations have sidewalk kiosks like the one in the photo; others are more basic.)

Autolib' logoAt Paris for Visitors, we've described the Vélib' bike-rental program, which was the model for many bike-sharing programs around the world. Now Paris and its surrounding communities have something for people who prefer four wheels to two: the Autolib' car-rental program, which has been tested in Paris for several months and had its full public launch on December 1, 2011.

The program currently has 250 stations. By June, 2012, the network will grow to some 1,000 stations in and around Paris, with 3,000 self-service vehicles for rent at 700 Paris stations and another 300 cars for hire outside the city limits. The Autolib' cars are 100% electric and have GPS navigation systems to keep drivers from getting lost.

Here's the program works:

Step 1: You sign up for a membership by the day, week, or year. You can register at any Autolib' station or at the Autolib' Welcome Center at 5 rue Edouard VII in the 9th arrondissement. You'll need a driver's license, a passport or national identity card, and a credit card. (Agents are on duty at Autolib' stations from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily; the Welcome Center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.)

Step 2: Once you've registered, you can reserve a car in advance at an Autolib' station, online, or by phone. If you need to keep the car longer than the 90-minute maximum, you can add more time (and electricity) by visiting a "recharge space" at any station. On average, each station has six parking spots, and you can return your rental car to any Autolib' location.

Here's what the French Government Tourist Office has to say about membership options:

Daily subscription: 10 euros registration fee plus 7 euros for the first half-hour, 6 euros for the second half-hour, and 8 euros for reach additional half-hour when you rent a car.

Weekly subscription: 15 euros registration fee, plus the same prices per half-hour as above.

Yearly subscription (something to consider if you're planning to become an expat or visiting Paris on a sabbatical): 144 euros per year or 12 euros per month registration fee, plus 5 euros for the first half-hour, 4 euros for the second half-hour, and 6 euros for each additional half-hour of car use.

Families get a 10% discount on all subscriptions, so drive in convoy and save!

For more information in French, visit Or see a Google Translate version of the site in English by clicking here.

BELOW: An Autolib' electric car, and a map of communities in and around Paris that are participating in Autolib'.

Autolib' electric car

Autolib' map

IMAGES: Syndicat Mixte Autolib'