Court Orders Delay in Building of New Berlin Airport

BERLIN (AP) -- A court Thursday blocked construction at Berlin's future main airport after thousands of residents sued to stop the project.

The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig issued a temporary injunction, saying the residents deserved protection while it considers complaints from about 4,000 of them. The court said it expects to rule definitively by next June.

Plans for Berlin's new euro1.7 billion (US$2.2 billion) international airport won approval from local authorities last year, more than a decade after the project was launched to establish the once-divided German capital as a major air transport hub.

Former East Berlin's Schoenefeld airport is to be expanded into the state-of-the-art Berlin-Brandenburg International by 2009 or 2010. Construction is to start next year and two west Berlin airports, Tegel and Tempelhof, are slated to close.