Berlin’s Tegel airport closes following last flight to Paris

Berlin's beloved Cold War-era Tegel airport finally closed its doors Sunday after a last flight took off, one week after a much-delayed replacement hub opened on the other side of the German capital.

Berlin's Tegel airport closes following last flight to Paris
Taxis at Berlin Tegel airport. Photo: DPA

Air France flight AF1235 to Paris was the very last plane to leave Tegel on
Sunday afternoon, AFP photographers saw.

“I'll say it quite clearly: it's a day when the hearts of many people are bleeding,” Berlin mayor Michael Müller told news agency DPA.

“For us Berliners, Tegel was the gateway to the world” during the long Cold War decades when West Berlin was a democratic exclave inside the communist German Democratic Republic, surrounded by the Berlin Wall.

READ ALSO: Berlin's Tegel airport to close Sunday: Five facts you need to know

A hand-picked group of passengers were aboard Tegel's last departure, which
took place as most of the world's aircraft remain grounded during the coronavirus pandemic.

Thousands of people had gathered on Saturday to watch the last publicly
accessible flights leave.

Berlin's new BER airport opened southeast of the capital last week after nine years of delay, and special flights by Lufthansa and Easyjet landed without a hitch.

Air France was the first airline to operate a regular service to Tegel from 1960, when it stood in the divided city's French-controlled sector.

Originally built to handle 2.5 million passengers a year, Tegel passed 20 million in 2014 and developed a reputation in recent years for crowding, delays and lost baggage.

It remained in operation throughout the delays to BER in a nine-year-long reprieve to its original closing date.

The former airport is set to host a whole new district, with homes for 10,000 people along with shops, schools and other facilities.

Its hexagonal terminal — now a protected historic monument — will become
an urban development centre run by the Beuth University of Applied Sciences.

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These are the plans for affordable (and sustainable) housing at Berlin’s former Tegel airport

Berlin’s city government has announced plans to build 5,000 apartments - all made of wood - on the site of Tegel airport, which was closed down for good at the beginning of November.

These are the plans for affordable (and sustainable) housing at Berlin's former Tegel airport
An artists impression of the new Schumacher Quarter. Source: Tegel Projekt GmbH

“From 2021, the largest timber construction district in the world, with over 5,000 apartments, will be built in the eastern area of the former Tegel airport,” said Berlin’s housing senator Sebastian Scheel (Linke).

The new district will be called the the Schumacher Quarter.

Scheel pledged that the new housing will be both climate neutral and affordable.

“From research and development, to material production and construction, everything will takes place in one place. This could help urban timber construction to achieve a breakthrough,” said Scheel.

He added that the aim was to make the timber housing for cities 20 to 25 percent cheaper to construct than a traditional build with reinforced concrete.

Photo: DPA

The project will be overseen by the Tegel Projekt GmbH, a company entirely owned by the city of Berlin.

The city will be hoping that the project goes more smoothly than the last state-run airport build. The disastrous construction of Berlin’s new Berlin Brandenburg (BER) international airport took a decade longer than planned.

READ ALSO: Berlin Brandenburg (BER) International Airport to finally open after nine-year delay

There is still some work to do on the site before construction can begin.

“Contaminated areas and military explosives need to be removed before it starts. The first ground work is already underway,” said Scheel. Construction on the building is scheduled to begin in 2024.

“According to current planning, the education campus and the first residential buildings in the Schumacher Quarter will be ready in 2027, the last ones in the early 2030s”, he said.

The new quarter is expected to provide homes for 10,000 residents of the capital. 

Another residential build on the site of the old airport is set to bring 4,000 more apartments into a city which is plagued by a shortage of living space.

The Tegel Projekt GmbH also wants to bring together founders, students, investors, industrialists and scientists in a new urban space. 

The Urban Tech Republic will be home to up to 1,000 different companies, and there are also plans to turn the current Terminal A into a university campus.

READ MORE: What's next for Berlin's Tegel airport?