Berlin’s Tegel Airport will be closing on June 15th, 2020. Officially it is a temporary closure. But because Corona brought aviation to its knees in March, this airport is not needed anymore. Goodbye Tegel.
When the Soviets tried to starve the inhabitants of the city’s Western sectors with their Berlin Blockade, the Western Allies started the Berlin Air Lift. Tempelhof Airport had a capacity problem which is why an additional airport was needed. So, in Tegel, the longest runway in Europe was built. A Douglas C-54 loaded with food touched down on November 5th, 1948. It was the first aircraft ever to land there.
PanAm Flights to Tegel
During the Cold War, airlines from the occupation forces England, France and the United States of America were allowed to land at Tegel Airport. Air France was the first to offer regular flights to West Berlin’s new airport in 1960. PanAm, a legendary former U.S. airline, followed in 1964. Lufthansa was banned from Berlin at that time.
When aviation took off in more than one way, West Berlin’s other airport, Tempelhof, was nearly bursting. For that reason, all charter flights were moved to Tegel Airport. In the late 1980s, West Berlin’s left-wing Senate prevented the erection of a second terminal. After Germany’s reunification, Lufthansa was finally allowed to fly to – and take off from – Tegel as well.
Berlin’s Four Major Airports
Out of the four major airports the Berlin Brandenburg region has, only Schönefeld will be operational from June 15th, 2020.
> Tempelhof Airport was closed for flights in 2008. It is now ‘An Airport for Skaters, Cyclists and Dogs‘.
> BER Airport will be opened on October 31st, 2020. (BER Airport’s Opening: The Only Uncancelled Event in Brandenburg)
> Tegel Airport will be closed on June 15th, 2020.
‘> Schönefeld Airport will become Terminal 5 of BER Airport. They are already renaming this airport’s terminals. (Berlin: Schönefeld Airport to Rename Terminals Ahead of BER Airport’s Opening)
Tegel was supposed to be closed in 2012. But because the new BER Airport was delayed, the operator FBB needed to postpone the closure a million times. In 2019, Tegel Airport and Schönefeld Airport combined broke their own record. On December 20th, the 35 millionth passenger of the year was drowned in prizes.
Then, in March of 2020, Corona hit and turned aviation into chopped liver. For two months, Tegel Airport was not really needed anymore. Still one of its owners, the Federal Republic of Germany, vetoed its closure for a while. Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer did not want to lose Tegel because it accommodates the government’s and the Federal President’s official air fleet.
Urban Tech Republic
Now the government gave in. The other two owners, namely the federal states of Berlin and Brandenburg, have been willing to close Tegel for a while now. In 26 days from today, on June 15th, 2020, an era will end. It will most likely be a final closure because by the time aviation is back to normal and needs high capacity airports, BER will be in service.
Tegel Airport will not just rot and fall apart. A research center and an industrial park named ‘Berlin TXL – The Urban Tech Republic’ will take over. Soon, Berlin will have two former airports, Tempelhof and Tegel. It is always good to have some room.
This afternoon, Tegel Airport was a sorry sight. At 2:30 p.m., only nine flights were announced for the rest of the day. Eight of them were domestic, one went to Helsinki. At this stage, passenger flights are down to 2 percent compared to their number before Corona hit. In April, things were even worse.
Tegel never offered flights to exotic destinations or too many intercontinental ones. That is because the airports in Frankfurt, Munich and Düsseldorf were designed to be major hubs during the Cold War, when West Berlin was surrounded by the GDR. But FBB, the operator of all major airports in Berlin and Brandenburg, is hoping BER Airport will change things in this regard, when things are back to normal. If they ever will.
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