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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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CULTURE

‘People liked the silence’: How Berlin’s club scene is struggling after lockdowns

Berlin's clubs are suffering from staff shortages, a lack of guests... and neighbours who've grown used to the silence, representatives for the scene say.

'People liked the silence': How Berlin's club scene is struggling after lockdowns

Some operators from Berlin’s club scene are bracing themselves for a difficult autumn. For months now, people have been allowed to dance again and life has returned to normal in the dark corners of Berlin’s famous nightlife scene.

But the clubs have far from recovered from the pandemic. They face staff shortages, rising prices and the prospect of a return to Covid restrictions in the autumn.

“We go into the autumn with huge fear, because the omens are totally unfavorable,” said association head Pamela Schobeß.

Spring and summer went anything but smoothly, she said. “There has been an oversupply of events. People aren’t going out as much, and some are still afraid to move around indoors.”

Money is also an issue. “A lot of people are afraid of rising energy prices.”

The industry lost workers during the pandemic and it’s hard to convince them to come back with the outlook for the autumn looking so gloomy, Schobeß says.

Her colleague Robin Schellenberg tells a similar story. People have switched to various other jobs and would even rather work on a supermarket checkout, which may have been considered less sexy in the past. Now, he says, some have learned to love not having to work nights.

READ ALSO: 

Schellenberg runs the Klunkerkranich, a small club on a parking garage deck in Neukölln. Because a number of things have become more expensive, they have also had to increase their admission prices.

His impression is that people are going out less often and are deciding more spontaneously. In addition, people in the neighborhood are now more sensitive to noise. “Many people found the silence very enticing,” he said.

Some in the industry wonder what will happen next. Will club admission have to become much more expensive? Will that exclude people who can no longer afford it? And what happens if Covid infection numbers rise sharply?

If masks become mandatory indoors in October, Schobeß believes that would be bad for the clubs. “Even if we don’t get shut down by the state, we’ll actually have to close down independently ourselves,” she reckons.

Masks take all the joy out of the experience, she says. People have drinks in their hands and are “jumping around and dancing” and then security guards have to tell them “please put your mask on.”

The federal government is considering whether states should be able to make masks mandatory indoors starting in October. Exceptions should be possible, such as at cultural and sporting events, for people who have been tested, recently vaccinated and recently recovered.

In the event that Covid numbers soar, the states could then be allowed to tighten the rules and eliminate all exemptions.

READ ALSO: German court declares techno to be music

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