This week: More Berlin delays, slow Cairo & Cuban tax hike

Wow, what a week this one was! We’ve almost seen it all and – even more interestingly – some airport related news came from countries we not regularly hear from: Egypt, the Ukraine and Cuba.

Let’s kick off with one of our regular news destinations though: Berlin. You know what’s coming, right? Yes, it’s the new airport, Berlin Brandenburg (BER) that once again made headlines this week for all the wrong reasons. On Tuesday the New York Times wrote that officials said the global hub has hit yet another delay and may not open before late next year (the last time it was postponed to March 17, 2013 – we wrote about it). The article even claims that these delays now undermine the image of German efficiency.

Tuesdays surely wasn’t a good day for German aviation as it was also Tuesday when the German cabin crew union UFO called on its members working at Lufthansa to go on (another) strike. The same thing happened again on Friday affecting the airports of Frankfurt (FRA), Berlin Tegel (TXL), Hamburg, Munich (MUC), Duesseldorf and Stuttgart. The union seemed to have made some headway towards its 5% pay rise target with Lufthansa saying it is ready to increase wages by 3.5 per cent, as reported by the Economic Times.

Not quite a full strike, but “slowdowns” saw the capital of Egypt this week. The Washington Post reported that dozens of airplane flights leaving Cairo (CAI) were delayed on Saturday because of a work slowdown by the baggage handlers of Egypt’s national carrier. The article stated this was the second day in a row in which labor unrest at the country’s main airport disrupted travel.

Last week it was a feared hijacking at Amsterdam Schiphol (we reported it), this week officals in the U.S. had to deal with a bomb hoax. Dallas News reported that a Philadelphia plane bound for Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW) returned to the original airport after an anonymous tip about an explosive on a plane turned out to be a hoax.

An interesting and certainly unusual article reached us this week from the Ukraine where the Kyiv Post reported that after a fanfare opening of new facilities at airport terminals in four host cities of the Euro 2012 soccer, most duty-free shops and cafes beyond passport control have now been shut down by authorities in recent days. In the article the controversial shutdowns were explained by Kyiv Oblast prosecutors, who admitted to uncovering customs violations, but denied shutting down the venues themselves.

Another new country making our airport news this week was Cuba when the Washington Post reported that a steep hike in customs duties took effect in Cuba on Monday, catching many air travelers unaware and leaving some shocked at the new fees. According to the article travelers are allowed to bring in 66 pounds (30 kilograms) of miscellaneous goods without being charged. Everything after that gets taxed at $4.55 a pound ($10 per kilogram).

And our last news for the week reveals a new, interesting offer from an airport in the United Kingdom where air passengers will be able to fly their pets into and out of Scotland after the country’s first animal reception centre opened at Edinburgh Airport (EDI), as reported by the Edinburgh Evening News.

That’s all we have for this week – save travels!

[Feature Photo of the Berlin Fernsehturm from Flickr – Some rights reserved by Robby van Moor]