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Closure of Berlin-Tegel airport #DankeTXL

Updated: Nov 22, 2020

Berlin-Tegel Airport closed on November 8, 2020. With the closure of Tegel, flight operations in the capital region are now concentrated at BER. The last regular scheduled flights leave TXL on November 7, 2020. But the final flight operations ended in Tegel the next day, November 8, with the Air France flight to bid farewell at the airport.

“A large piece of city history comes to an end with the closure of Tegel Airport"

Flight operations were organised very effectively by a perfectly coordinated team from the airport company and numerous partners. Although it has actually long since become too small, the airport was able to handle considerably more passengers than was thought possible – most recently 24 million passengers in 2019. Keeping Tegel running was an important condition for being able to complete construction of BER. Tegel has rendered Berlin a great service.

7 key factors in TXL's history
Cold War era & Base aérienne 165 Berlin Tegel (1948-1994)

Plans for converting the area into allotment gardens were shelved due to the Berlin Blockade, which began on 24 June 1948. In the ensuing US-led Berlin Airlift, it quickly turned out that Berlin's existing main airport at Tempelhof was not big enough to accommodate all relief aircraft. As a consequence, the French military authorities in charge of Tegel at that time ordered the construction of a 2,428 m (7,966 ft) long runway, the longest in Europe at the time, as well as provisional airport buildings and basic infrastructure. Groundbreaking took place on 5 August 1948, and only 90 days later, on 5 November, a United States Air Force (USAF) Douglas C-54 Skymaster became the first aircraft to land at the new airport. Following the end of the Berlin Airlift in May 1949, Tegel became the Berlin base of the Armée de l'Air, eventually leading to the establishment of Base aérienne 165 at Berlin Tegel on 1 August 1964. The end of the Cold War and German reunification resulted in the deactivation of the Western Allies' armed forces in Berlin in July 1994. This in turn led to the decommissioning of Base aérienne 165 the same year.

Commercial operations

West Berlin's special legal status during the Cold War era (1945–1990) meant that all air traffic through the Allied air corridors linking the exclave with West Germany was restricted to airlines headquartered in the United States, the United Kingdom, or France – three of the four victorious powers of World War II. Initially, all commercial flights used the original terminal building (a pre-fabricated shed), which was situated to the North of the runway, at what is today the military part of the airport.

  • Air France

Air France was the first airline to commence regular commercial operations at Tegel on 2 January 1960.

  • Pan American World Airways

Pan Am followed Air France into Tegel in May 1964, with a year-round, thrice-weekly direct service to New York JFK, which was operated with Boeing 707s or Douglas DC-8s. These aircraft could not operate from Tempelhof – the airline's West Berlin base at the time – with a viable payload. In addition to operating a limited number of commercial flights from Tegel prior to its move from Tempelhof on 1 September 1975, Pan Am used it as a diversion airfield. The move from Tempelhof to Tegel resulted in all of Pan Am's Berlin operations being concentrated at the latter.

The largest-ever expansion of Pan Am's scheduled internal German services occurred during summer 1984, when the airline's aircraft movements at Tegel increased by 20%. This coincided with the relocation of the US carrier's German and Central European headquarters from Frankfurt to Berlin on 1 May 1984.

  • British Airways

British Airways was the last of West Berlin's three main scheduled carriers to commence regular operations from Tegel following the move from Tempelhof on 1 September 1975.

Tegel becomes West Berlin's main airport & new terminal takes shape

Following Pan Am's and British Airways's move from Tempelhof to Tegel on 1 September 1975, the latter replaced Tempelhof as the main airport of West Berlin.

Construction of a new, hexagonally shaped terminal complex on the airport's south side began during the 1960s. This coincided with the lengthening of the runways to permit fully laden widebodied aircraft to take off and land without restricting their range and construction of a motorway and access road linking the new terminal to the city centre. It became operational on 1 November 1974.

A British Airways L-1011 Tristar 1, a Laker Airways McDonnell-Douglas DC-10-10, a Pan Am Boeing 747-100 and an Air France Airbus A300 B2 were among the widebodied aircraft specially flown in for a pre-inauguration of the new terminal on 23 October 1974. Dan-Air operated the first commercial flight to arrive at the airport's new terminal at 06.00 am local time with a BAC One-Eleven that was inbound from Tenerife

The architecture of Berlin-Tegel Airport

When the construction of Berlin-Tegel Aiport was announced in the mid-sixties, two young, hitherto unknown architects applied for the project: Meinhard von Gerkan and Volkwin Marg. With their revolutionary concept of an airport of short distances, they were handed the contract and consequently influenced airport designs worldwide.

The basic architectural motif of Tegel Airport is the hexagon. Not only is the terminal building conceptualised around the hexagon, but so are the tower and other surrounding buildings, from the stairwells right up to the shape of the bus stops. There are also smaller structural elements that incorporate this motif and are often characterised by 60-degree angles.

The passenger as the focus of planning. From the hexagon shape comes what most consider the airport’s biggest advantage: the short distances and speedy check-in. It’s only a 30m walk from the taxi to the gate. This “drive-in airport” created in Tegel is still special today, since its architecture never required much space. This was a vital factor in the then enclosed West Berlin.

Reunification era

Following Germany's reunification on 3 October 1990, all access restrictions to the former West Berlin airports were lifted. Lufthansa resumed flights to Berlin on 28 October 1990. the German flag carrier's resumption of services from/to Berlin, it purchased Pan Am's Internal German Services (IGS) division for US$150 million. As a US-registered airline, Air Berlin found itself in the same situation as Pan Am following German reunification. It chose to reconstitute itself as a German company. The airline Air Berlin was founded in 1978 by Lelco, an American company. Following German reunification, Air Berlin was sold and became a German company in 1991. It joined the Oneworld alliance in 2012. After years of losses, Air Berlin filed for insolvency on 15 August 2017 and ceased operations on 27 October 2017.

The Tegel's observation deck :

Tegel Airport’s observation deck has been reopened from 3 October to 7 November 2020. However, due to current distancing regulations, only a limited number of people are allowed on the deck at a time with free tickets booked online with time slots for those aviation enthusiasts, airport fans, spotters, Tegel and architecture lovers, and anyone else who is interested will once again have the opportunity to witness take-offs and landings up close, observe what is happening on the apron, say thank you and say goodbye. There is also information about the airport’s history. A selfie spot invites you to take photo memories, which can be shared under the hashtag #DankeTXL.

Pictures taken from observation deck of Tegel in 2012


Last departure from TXL

Kick-off began on October 31, 2020. Over the course of a week, the German capital's flight operations shifted from Tegel Airport to the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER). Lufthansa bid farewell to Tegel on November 7 with the last departure: LH1955 from Berlin to Munich. But the final departure was made on November 8 with the last regular flight operated by Air France because: The first regular flight to Tegel was provided by the French airline Air France. A Lockheed Super Constellation landed at the new airport on January 2, 1960. More than sixty years later, on November 8, 2020, the circle was closed: at 3 p.m., an Air France plane took off for the last time from Berlin-Tegel airport to Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport. In doing so, Air France’s latest flight concludes this era of aviation in Berlin.

Today, Sunday 8 November 2020, Air France flight AF1235 was the last-ever flight to depart from Berlin Tegel “Otto Lilienthal” Airport, or TXL for short. At 3.00 p.m., an Air France Airbus A320-200 took off bound for Paris Charles de Gaulle airport.

AF1235: Letzter Abflug von Tegel | Last flight from Tegel

© Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH

#DankeTXL: Berlin bids farewell to TXL / Tegel Airport ceases operations after final departure by Air France

©© Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH Anikka BauerBrandenburg GmbH

Following the last departure and the end of operations at TXL, the area was symbolically handed over to the city. In line withthe zoning decision for Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER), TXL will be kept in operating condition for a further six months from the date of the complete commissioning of BER. During this period, however, no more flights will take place in Tegel.


Due to legal and safety reasons, Tegel will be held operational for air traffic for another six months without handling any scheduled services before being decomissioned as an aviation facility on 3 May 2021. The minor military area on the northern side of Tegel will still be used for governmental helicopter flights until 2029. At the end of the six-month period, the former airport site will start to be redeveloped into a new urban district. All air traffic in the German capital region will as off today take place solely at BER.

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