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Berlin Tegel to officially lose its airport status: What’s next for the former flight hub?

Many proclaimed that an era ended in Berlin when Tegel Airport ceased flights six months ago. Yet on Wednesday at midnight, operations are set to officially end.

Berlin Tegel to officially lose its airport status: What's next for the former flight hub?
A couple takes a selfie at the iconic airport shortly before its last flight on November 5th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Soeder

That’s when the former airport’s operating permit for takeoffs and landings officially expire, leaving the possibility open to new building plans at the former flight hub in the northwest of the capital. 

For half a year, pilots could still switch to Tegel Airport if anything went wrong at the new Berlin Brandenburg (BER) Airport, which opened after nine years of delays on October 31st. 

READ ALSO: What you need to know about Berlin’s ‘cursed’ new BER airport

Yet there have been no serious problems at BER so far – especially since the slump in passenger numbers as a result of the Covid crisis has meant that the much-anticipated new airport has not yet been fully put to the test. 

Tegel has not had to be used in recent months for flights. Yet it as served as one of six Berlin vaccination centres over the last few months.

“As of May 5th, the site is no longer an airport, even in the legal sense,” announced the operator, the Airport Association of Berlin-Brandenburg (FBB). 

On Tuesday, FBB already plans to hand over the first buildings to the state of Berlin.

The last passenger aircraft, an Air France plane bound for Paris, already took off from Tegel on November 8th, and flight operations have been suspended since then.

READ ALSO: Berlin’s Tegel airport closes following last flight to Paris

What’s next for Tegel?

The site and buildings are now to be gradually handed over to the state of Berlin in the months leading up until August. Then the state-owned Tegel Projekt GmbH will take care of the further development of the site.

The Beuth University of Applied Sciences is to move into the iconic main terminal of the former airport.

Tegel Projekt GmbH also plans to build around 5,000 new timber apartments, as well as a technology and industrial park.

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

Through an official agreement with the city, however, for 2.5 years the airport association will still be responsible for handling so-called contaminated sites in the area: pollutants in the soil or potential former WWII bombs that must be removed if necessary.

“So far, no need for action has arisen,” FBB announced.

The airport’s iconic retro design that Berliners know today comes from architects Meinhard von Gerkan and Volkwin Marg. Construction began in 1970, and the airport was inaugurated four years later. 

Since then, the number of passengers sharply rose each year up until the coronavirus crisis, and reached dimensions that the airport, small by international standards, could not handle anymore.

Of the approximately 36 million passengers in Berlin in 2019, around 24 million travelled via Tegel.

Vocabulary

operations – (der) Betrieb

landings – (die) Landungen

opened – eröffnet

pollutants/contaminants – (die) Schadstoffe

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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COVID-19 RULES

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now

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