Berlin Tegel "Otto Lilienthal" is the main international airport in Berlin, and the fourth busiest airport in Germany. Tegel will close when the new Berlin-Brandenburg airport opens. Opening of the new Berlin-Brandenburg airport has been postponed several times.
Initially the airport's opening date was set for 30 October 2011. Then the opening was pushed back by seven months to 3 June 2012, followed by a further delay of nine months until at least 17 March 2013. At the time of our visit to Berlin-Tegel on 22/23 September 2012, the likely opening date for Berlin-Brandenberg was named 27 October 2013. The delays provided us still an opportunity to visit the historic airport Berlin-Tegel.
On 24 June 1948 the Soviet Union started to block the Western Allies' railway, road and canal access to the sectors of Berlin under Allied control. Their aim was to force the western powers to allow the Soviet zone to start supplying Berlin with food and fuel, thereby giving the Soviets practical control over the entire city. In response, the Western Allies organized the Berlin airlift to carry supplies to the people in West Berlin.
Berlin's existing main airport at Tempelhof was not big enough to accommodate all relief aircraft. As a consequence, the French military authorities in charge of Tegel at that time ordered the construction of a 2,428m long runway, the longest in Europe at the time, as well as provisional airport buildings and basic infrastructure.
Groundbreaking took place on 5 August 1948, and only 90 days later, on 5 November, a United States Air Force Douglas C-54 Skymaster became the first aircraft to land at the new airport. British Dakota and Hastings aircraft carrying essential goods and raw materials began using Tegel on a regular basis from 17 November 1948. Regular cargo flights with American C-54s followed from 14 December 1948. The Berlin Airlift was ended on 12 May 1949.
In the late 1950s, the runways at West Berlin's city centre Tempelhof Airport had become too short to accommodate the new-generation jet aircraft. Air France was the first airline to commence regular commercial operations at Tegel on 2 January 1960. Air France initially used Lockheed Super Constellation piston equipment on all Berlin flights. On 24 February 1960, Air France became the first airline to introduce jet equipment on its Berlin routes when the new Caravelles began replacing the Super Constellations.
Construction of a new, hexagonally shaped terminal complex on the airport's south side began during the 1960s. This coincided with the lengthening of the runways to permit fully laden widebodied aircraft to take off and land without restricting their range and construction of a motorway and access road linking the new terminal to the city centre. It became operational on 1 November 1974.
Following Pan Am's and British Airways's move from Tempelhof to Tegel on 1 September 1975, the latter replaced Tempelhof as the main airport of West Berlin. Following Germany's reunification on 3 October 1990, all access restrictions to the former West Berlin airports were lifted. Berlin Tegel airport's commercial era will come to an end with Tegel's closure to commercial traffic when the new Berlin-Brandenburg Airport opens.
(Excerpts from Wikipedia)
17 Aug 1948, German cement workers laying Tegel Airfield's runway
28 Sep 1948, Grading a future taxiway
Empty runway asphalt barrels
5 Nov 1948, first C-54 arriving at Tegel
14 Jul 1954, Tegel airport
Lockheed Super Constellation at Tegel, 1961
Construction of south terminal, 1971
Berlin Tegel south terminal, 1972
Postcard Berlin Tegel, mid 1970s
Approaching Berlin Tegel from the east
Overview Berlin Tegel, December 2011
From Lelystad to Berlin
We left Lelystad airport on Saturday 22 September, 2012 at the end of the morning to Berlin Tegel. We climbed to FL 95, above most of the scattered/broken clouds on the route, where the OAT was minus 10 Celcius. Occasionally we had to fly around some higher clouds exceeding our flight level.
The winds from the west/north-west gave us an extra 30 knots boost, and the GPS measured a ground speed of about 180 knots. We arrived at Berlin-Tempelhof after one hour fifty-five minutes flying time. After landing on runway 26R and crossing 26L, we were directed to the further empty south-western apron with the guidance of a marshaller. The follow-me car brought us to the terminal, and with the tablet computer – which is nowadays an indispensable item in the flight bag – we booked a hotel in the centre of Berlin.
René and Veleda at Lelystad airport
Above broken clouds
Ground speed 180 knots at FL 95
Landing Berlin Tegel runway 26R
Arrived at Berlin Tegel
Veleda and René at Berlin Tegel
After checking in the hotel, we had a late lunch, we took the U-bahn to visit the former airport of Tempelhof that René had visited in the last weekend it was open in October 2008 (see Farewell Tempelhof trip report), and walked through the city centre. In the evening we went out to a nice restaurant.
Veleda at former airport Berlin Tempelhof
René with the runway signs at Tempelhof
Veleda with the Berlin Cathedral
The temporary Humboldt Box museum
From Berlin to Lelystad
On sunday morning we left the hotel for Berlin-Tegel. We had some trouble finding the GAT entrance, and once we found it, no one was there. A by coincidence arriving handling agent helped us in.
After some difficulty with security (we had a fire distinguisher in the airplane suitcase that we had better left in the airplane), we were brought to the airplane (we received the airport charges later by mail). ATC asked us if we could be squeezed in at one of the intersections in front of the 737s that were taxiing to runway's 26L and 26R, and we of course had no problem with that.
We took of from runway 26L, and then set course to a former Soviet airforce base which is now Stendal-Borstel airport, where we fueled. The journey to Lelystad was further uneventful.
René and Veleda at Berlin Tegel
Taxi out to runway 26R Berlin Tegel
Approaching Stendal airport
René at Stendal-Borstel airport
Final runway 05 Lelystad