Voters in Berlin have opted, by a small majority, to instruct the city’s Senate to keep Tegel Otto Lilienthal (TXL) airport open. Until now, the facility was expected to close when Brandenburg Willy Brandt (BER), the replacement for Tegel and Schonefeld, opens. The the non-binding referendum held on September 24, the same day as national elections, resulted in 56.1% of the local population voting in favour of keeping some air services at Tegel, while 41.7% still wish to see TXL closed after work on BER is completed.
Following the reunification of German, Berlin had three airports – Tempelhof (THF) and Tegel in the former western sector of the city, and Schonefeld (SXF) in the east. The oldest airport, Tempelhof, closed in 2008 and has since become a public park although part of the terminal is currently used to house refugees. An entirely new airport adjacent to SXF was intended to replace both SXF and TXL, and although construction commenced in 2006 the project has been beset by problems that have delayed its opening. As yet there is no firm date for its completion. In the mean time, air traffic through Berlin’s existing airports has increased rapidly and now exceeds the design capacity of BER. Various proposals have been put forward to address the issue, including continued use of some parts of SXF which shares one of BER’s two runways. However, it has now been revealed that a majority of city residents favour keeping TXL open to passenger flights, as it is closer to the city than BER.
The octagonal terminal and densely-populated surroundings at TXL limited options for its expansion, and it was envisaged that the site would become a science and technology park after BER opened. The referendum has asked the Berlin Senate to immediately abandon its intentions to close TXL, and to take all measures necessary to secure the permanent operation of the airport.
Photo: Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt was originally expected to take over from Tegel and Schonefeld as the city’s gateway in 2010. No date for its completion has yet been confirmed. (Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg)
Main photo: A majority of Berlin voters have expressed a desire for Tegel Airport to remain open after its replacement, Brandenburg Willy Brandt, opens. (Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg)