At 72-year-old Berlin Tegel Airport (TXL), the lights will be turned off in June, says the operator, considerably earlier than previously announced by the public stakeholders; these are
the City of Berlin, the state of Brandenburg, and the Federal Republic.
The forthcoming closure ends a chapter of moving aviation history that began during the Soviet blockade of Berlin and the following Airlift in 1948, when thousands of DC-3 “Raisin
Bombers” landed at newly built Tegel to secure supplies to West Berlin and the survival of the then divided city.
Crises mostly accelerate development but sometimes also prevent changes being made or slow them down considerably. In the case of Berlin Tegel Airport (TXL), it was external threat, the Soviet
blockade of the city, that led to the construction of the airport, built from scratch in a record-breaking 90 days.
In contrast, Tegel’s forthcoming successor, Berlin Brandenburg International, sets a rather poor example. BER is under construction since 2006 and expected to be inaugurated on 31OCT this year.
In this specific case, a series of self-induced crises slowed down most activities and delayed its launch severely, reaching from ill-managed planning, construction errors, grotesque authority
confusion, political mishaps, a defunct and complicated smoke detection system, et alia.
Because of these and other shortcomings, BER has become a synonym for inefficiencies, managerial incompetence, planning chaos, and cost explosion.
Finally, however, the airport is nearing its launch date. Conversely, Berlin Tegel’s days are numbered. Until recently, the airport was supposed to be closed for good at the end of this year,
following a transition period of some weeks, until all processes are running smoothly at BER.
“Pack your bags!”
But again, Berlin’s airport policy is always good for a surprise. Seen by the fact that its operator Berliner Flughafen-GmbH, has sent a letter to the Tegel-based cargo companies, urging them to
pack their belongings and move to the Berlin-Brandenburg Cargo Center (adjacent to future BER) by 31MAY20 (sic!).
The reason given, was that Tegel will already be shut down at the beginning of June, instead of November or December, and not in July either, as previously discussed as well. But that is not
enough! What is particularly surprising in the letter, is the implied reversal of the decision, indicating a U-turn in case “urging circumstances” require the return of operations to Tegel
Enough is enough!
By “circumstances” is meant that from 15JUN20 onwards, many existing travel restrictions following the Corona pandemic spread will end, which could lead to an onslaught of air travelers.
In that case, it will no longer be possible to comply with the applicable distance rules when thousands of passengers are lining up – literally speaking – from BER’s fence to the security
controls at BER’s neighbor Schoenefeld Airport, that will become an integral part of Berlin Brandenburg Airport after its launch.
As a consequence of the expected bottlenecks, the operator intends to re-open Tegel for some weeks or even until the official launch of Berlin Brandenburg International on 31OCT20, as emphasized
in its letter.
This, however, has thrown the local cargo industry into turmoil because, if commanded, the companies would have to return their entire personnel and handling equipment to their abandoned Tegel
offices and warehouses and start doing business from there again, including trucking goods between both sites. A nightmare and a costly issue.
In the meantime, first players announced their resistance to moving back and forth. Lufthansa bluntly stated that they refuse to return to TXL after shutting down their offices and stopping
flying from there. It is likely that others will follow suit.
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