Cold War-era Berlin Tegel airport closes its doors after 60 years
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Sunday is a sad day for many Berliners.
The city’s historic Cold War-era airport, Tegel (TXL), shuts its doors for good with a final Air France departure at 3 p.m. local time. Long-delayed Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER), which opened on Oct. 31, will handle all flights to and from the German capital.
The closure of Tegel is bittersweet to many locals. Despite a terminal that often felt like a 1970s time capsule, a majority of Berliners voted to keep the airport open in a non-binding referendum in 2017. Many loved the proximity of the airfield less than six miles from the Reichstag whereas Brandenburg, despite its modernity, lies nearly 19 miles distant.
“I’ve flown from Tegel many times since the Wall came down, and it feels like an era is coming to an end,” East Berliner Rolf Schneider told NPR of the closure on Nov. 6.
Tegel was built as a military airfield during the Berlin Airlift in 1948. More than a decade later in 1960, Air France operated the airport’s first commercial passenger flight — hence the French carrier operating the last flight out — at what would become West Berlin’s main airport during the Cold War.
The airport’s iconic hexagonal terminal designed by Meinhard von Gerkan and Volkwin Marg opened in 1974. With West German carrier Lufthansa barred from serving Berlin, Tegel became the main base of Pan Am’s Internal German Service as well as British Airways’ German services.
View this post on Instagram
Lufthansa began flights to Berlin in 1990 after post-World War II restrictions were lifted. It acquired aircraft and gates from Pan Am to rapidly expand service at Tegel.
Since 1974, Tegel’s hexagonal terminal has remained the beating heart of the airport. The shape was very much of its era: designed to shorten the distance from aircraft to curbside, according to the magazine Bauen + Wohnen in 1976. The feel was both brutalist and modern, with hexagonal space-frame structure in the landside corridors of the building.
But the design did not take into account either the security needs or aircraft size of the 21st century. Air Berlin, which shut its doors in 2017, cited the delays opening Brandenburg — and by extension the need to continue operating from antiquated Tegel — among reasons for its losses during its final years.
Related: The secret life of 7 former airports
After Tegel closes, the airport will be converted to a new research and industrial park named “Berlin TXL.” The plan includes new housing and an urban park. The iconic terminal will be preserved and converted into a new campus for Beuth University.
Tegel will make two former Berlin airports adaptively reused. The Nazi-era Tempelhof Airport on the city’s south side was adapted as a large urban park in 2010.
But for those who enjoyed flying in and out of Tegel, Sunday is auf wiedersehen to the historic field.
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by Airport Architecture (@airportarchitecture) on
Featured image by Maja Hitij/Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees