MIAMI – Berlin-Tegel Airport (TXL) will officially close its doors this fall. Air France (AF) will operate the airport’s final flight on November 8, 2020, with an Airbus A319. AF1235 is scheduled to depart TXL at 3:00 pm local time to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG).
Berlin-Tegel’s Military Origins
The history of Berlin-Tegel Airport begins in the late 1940s. At the time, French military authorities were in charge of Tegel. The Berlin Blockade was in full effect and the existing airport, Berlin Tempelhof (THF), was becoming overwhelmed with American relief aircraft. Authorities ordered the construction of a second airport nearby, and thus, ground was broken for TXL.
A Douglas C-54 Skymaster flown by the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) was the first aircraft to land at TXL on November 5, 1948. The USAAF began to use the new airport to operate cargo flights as part of the Berlin Airlift.
Soon after, the Royal Air Force (RAF) joined the relief efforts which would result in the Anglo-American Airlift. The RAF sent a mixed fleet of Douglas C-47 Dakota and Handley Page HP.67 Hastings aircraft to TXL.
Airlifts would continue until the end of the Berlin Blockade in 1949.
Berlin-Tegel Airport Statistics
As of 2019, TXL is the fourth busiest airport in Germany. A total of 22,227,570m passengers traveled through it last year. The airport now serves as a hub for German budget carrier Eurowings GmbH (EW). It is also a base for British low-cost airline group EasyJet. It serves European metropolitan and leisure destinations, as well as several international cities outside Europe.
The airport layout consists of five terminals and two parallel runways. Despite this, TXL is small in contrast to other major airports. Plans were in place to construct a sixth terminal but they fell through due to Berlin municipal budgetary constraints.
Reason for Closure
Berlin-Tegel Airport originally faced closure in 2017. Aircraft noise is a problem now that over 300,000 people live and work on the land surrounding the airport. Additionally, complaints regarding operational and safety standards have been made. A referandum held in Berlin in 2017, however, showed that 56% of citizens opposed TXL’s shutdown.
Although TXL was kept open, a new airport will finally replace it before the end of this year. Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) will commence operations on October 31. A statement released by BER Airport Operations announced TXL is to receive a proper send-off on November 8. Afterwards, all aircraft traffic will redirect to BER, and TXL’s 72-year-long run will come to an end.
Featured image: Berlin-Tegel Airport. Photo: Arne Mueseler