Berlin’s unique history has had an impact on how its system of airports has evolved over time. During its occupation by the four Allied powers, five different airports were in operation, primarily for military purposes. At the start of the present century three of these airports were still operating: Tempelhof (THF), Tegel (TXL) and Schönefeld (SXF).
However, following reunification in 1990 there was a desire for Berlin and the Brandenburg region to have a larger airport which could better handle future demands for commercial aviation. The ‘single airport concept’, decided upon in the so-called ‘consensus decision’ in 1996, envisaged that a new airport, an expansion at the Schönefeld site, would handle all commercial aviation in Berlin and that the city’s other airports would close. It was decided that Tempelhof would close once the expansion plans at Schönefeld were approved, and that Tegel would close once both runways at the Schönefeld site were opened.
Construction at the Schönefeld site began in 2006, with Tempelhof eventually closing in 2008. The new airport, Berlin Brandenburg International (BER), was originally scheduled to open in 2010. However, after a series of delays it has still not opened, and the eventual opening date is still unclear. For this reason, the conditions which would have led to Tegel closing – BER opening – have not yet materialised, and Tegel remains open.
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