The last planes from Tempelhof: The end of an era

07.10.08 10:20
The airport is the cradle of aviation and a symbol for the desire for freedom of the Berliners/Closure is an important step on the path to the BBI/Air traffic will end on 30 October 2008/Cirrus to Mannheim is the last scheduled flight/Junkers Ju 52 and “raisin bomber” DC 3 take off shortly before midnight
After 80 years of air traffic, 30 October 2008 will see the closure of the Tempelhof Airport. The last charter machine, a Dornier 328 of Cirrus Airlines, will take off at 9.50 pm and will be flying to Mannheim. The pilot of the aircraft will be Lars Jacobs. The last aircrafts to leave the airport will be the Junkers Ju-52 of the Deutsche Lufthansa Berlin-Stiftung and the “raisin bomber” DC 3 of Air Service Berlin. Both planes will take off from Tempelhof shortly before midnight. The pilot of the Ju 52 is Georg Kohne. The DC 3 will be flown by Steffen Wardin.

The last three flights are the highlight of the final event to mark the closure of Tempelhof Airport to which Berlin Airports is inviting representatives of airlines and personalities from politics and economics. On the last day, the main hall of Tempelhof Airport will be closed for visitors and people collecting air passengers. Passengers who have a valid air ticket for this day will have access to the main hall as usual.

The last flights mark the end of a significant era in German aviation history. At the same time, with the closure of the airport, Berlin Airports is taking a big step towards the realisation of the most important future project of the German metropolitan region: the concentration of the air traffic at the new Capital Airport Berlin Brandenburg International BBI by 2011.

A look back in time

Tempelhof is justifiably regarded as the cradle of aviation. The name Tempelhof is closely connected to the beginning of engine-powered aviation. On 4 September 1909, an engine-powered flight took off for a few minutes for the first time in Germany. With his plane, American Orville Wright ushered in the age of engine-powered aviation in Germany on the Tempelhof airfield. Aeronautical engineering continued to develop at a rapid pace: on 8 October 1923, Tempelhof was granted the status of “Berlin Airport”. The central airport Tempelhof developed into the biggest hub in Europe. Tempelhof became the home of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, which was founded on 6 January 1926 in Berlin. 1936 saw the start of construction of a completely new airport of epic proportions. The construction of the largest airport building in the world catered for both Hitler’s penchant for monumental constructions and the expected 6 million passengers. During World War II, civilian air traffic increasingly dwindled. After a brief occupation by the Soviet army, the Americans took over the airport in July 1945.

On 18 May 1946, civilian air traffic recommenced with an aircraft of American Overseas. On 24 May 1948, the Soviet Union declared a total blockade over West Berlin. During the air lift, which lasted until 12 May 1949, a total of 277,728 flights were used to transport 2,326,205 tons of supplies. Tempelhof and the “raisin bombers” became a symbol of the Berliners desire for freedom.

With the German Unification on 3 October 1990, air sovereignty was granted to the German authorities in Berlin. For the first time, aircrafts of Lufthansa and other, non-allied European states landed again in Berlin. At Tempelhof Airport, which was closed for civilian traffic, flights began operating again. From the mid-1990s, Tempelhof’s air traffic began increasingly moving to the two other airports Tegel and Schönefeld. This resulted in Tempelhof’s air traffic decreasing from year to year, so that Tempelhof began making losses with an annual deficit between 10 and 15 million euros.

From three to one

Since the consensus of May 1996, one thing is clear: the goal of the air traffic policy of the states of Berlin and Brandenburg is to concentrate the region’s entire air traffic in one location. With the opening of the new Capital Airport BBI on 30 October 2011 in Schönefeld, the historical split of the capital’s air traffic will come to an end. The closure of Tempelhof Airport on 30 October 2008 is an important milestone in the realisation of BBI. Tegel, the city’s second airport, will be closed after the opening of BBI.

The construction permit for the BBI is based on two final appeal verdicts and the decision of the Berlin airport authorities to close Tempelhof Airport:

  • November 2005: Berlin-Brandenburg Supreme Administrative Court legally approves the closure of Berlin-Tegel Airport.
  • The Supreme Administrative Court approves the expansion of Schönefeld Airport to the Capital Airport BBI. Essential prerequisite: the closure of the city airports Tegel and Tempelhof.
  • February 2007: Berlin-Brandenburg Supreme Administrative Court legally approves the closure of Tempelhof Airport.
  • June 2007: The Senate Government for Town Planning makes the decision to close Tempelhof Airport. The closure is an inevitable result of the planning approval notice, which expressly requires air traffic to be concentrated in one single location.

Closure of Tempelhof – the next steps

On 30 October 2008, Berlin Airports will hand over the keys to the future manager of the airport, BIM – Berliner Immobilienmanagement GmbH. As part of an invitation to tender, a wholly owned subsidiary of the airport company Facility Management Tempelhof GmbH (FMT), will bid for the further management of the property. FMT employs 38 people. A further nine firemen of the airport company will continue to work in the fire service control room up until the end of 2008. The airport company has a contract with the BIMA, Bundesanstalt für Immobilienaufgaben (Federal Institute for Property Assignments) in which they have undertaken to hand over the airport in the condition in which they received it from the allies in 1993.

The airline Intersky will fly from Tempelhof to Friedrichshafen for the last time on 25 October 2008 at 8.25 am. On the same day, Brussels Airlines will take off at 6.55 pm and fly to Brussels. With the start of the winter 2008/09 flight schedule on 26 October, both airlines will begin offering flights from Tegel.

Hannes Stefan Hönemann

Hannes Stefan Hönemann Head of Corporate

+49 30 6091-70100

Daniel Tolksdorf

Daniel Tolksdorf Spokesperson

+49 30 6091-70100

Kathrin Westhölter

Kathrin Westhölter Spokesperson

+49 30 6091-70100