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Berlin Bids Goodbye To Iconic Tegel Airport After 60 Years

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With the recent opening of the long-delayed Brandenburg Airport, Berlin finally bid farewell to its central Tegel airport on Sunday. Beloved by some and disrelished by others, Tegel for several years has held the reputation as the airport that won't die. The air traffic has now shifted to a new airstrip along the outskirts of the city, thus marking the end of an era that belonged to the iconic Tegel.

 On Saturday, several airlines escorted their final planes from Tegel to the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport Willy Brandt, as to mark the ceremonial closure of the former and the grand opening of the latter. Brandenburg airport had finally opened at the end of October nine years late and far above its original budget. The final scheduled flight took off Sunday afternoon from Tegel, an Air France jet to Paris. Air France was the first commercial flight to take off from Tegel when it first opened 60 years ago. So having it be the last flight served to honor the legacy of the airport.

Tegel was a destination used for airships in the early 1900s and later an air force training area during the Nazi era. As far as history is concerned Tegel was constructed out of emergency in 1948 as a response to the Soviet blockade. Back in those days, Berlin was divided into French, American, British, and Soviet sectors, each having its own airport. Tegel then became a crucial hub for the Berlin Airlift operation in breaking the Soviet blockade by 1949 — a key moment in the Cold War that demonstrated the Western Allies’ resolve to stand beside West Germany. The first commercial flights began in 1960 when Air France started regular service to Tegel.

Tegel’s facilities had become taxed. But since the airport was never intended to cater to a commercial purpose, the integration of Berlin with Germany put a pressure on Tegel that it could not withstand. Area residents frequently complained of noise, and its runways were also unable to handle the largest jumbo jets typically used for long-haul flights, meaning that Berlin travelers would usually have to transfer in Frankfurt or other hubs before flying to North America or farther afield. Thus it was decided to shut shop on Tegel and develop a new airport for the capital city that better facilitates its residents. The airport's grounds are due to be redeveloped into a new city quarter dedicated to scientific and industrial research.

Source: CNN Travel