We don’t know when Berlin Brandenburg Airport will finally open, but it’s now slated for 2019…only nine years late. Even when it finally does, Berlin voters have expressed a preference to keep Tegel Airport open.
The original plan was that Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) would replace both Berlin Tegel (TXL) and Berlin Schönefeld Airport (SXF). But Schönefeld will certainly remain and is now being expanded. Yesterday Germany held a federal election but like elections in the USA, local issues were voted on as well.
In Berlin, voters rejected a city government plan to turn Tegel Airport into a new mini-city with apartment buildings and an industrial park. Housing costs are soaring in once-affordable Berlin as demand far outstrips supply.
- 55% voted to re-consider plans to close Tegel
- 43% were opposed to its closing
The vote is non-binding, but is too significant to be ignored.
Berlin Tempelhof Airport closed in 2008, with anticipation that BER would open just a couple years later. That never happened and Tempelhof has become a massive refugee center.
Critics of the plan to close Tegel contend that Brandenburg plus Schönefeld will still be unable to handle sufficient demand and that Tegel should be preserved for shorthaul flights. Furthermore, they contend the attractive location of Tegel in the heart of the Berlin spurs commerce and remains far more convenient than BER or SXF.
But the hexagonal-shaped 1970s airport does not meet current safety protocols and would cost more than one billion Euros to update.
The debate will continue.
I find Tegel amusing. I don’t particularly like the airport, but there is certainly something nostalgic about it. The airport itself is an important historical reminder: it was built in just 90 days during the 1948 Berlin Airlift. Ultimately, I’m agnostic to whether it should remain open, but would hate to see airlines run out of room in Brandenburg or Schönefeld.
image: Jérôme / Wikimedia Commons