Berlin's historic Tegel airport back from brink of closure

Another lease on life for Tegel, possibly the last

Berlin's historic Tegel airport, slated for closure from mid-June, will be kept open for a few more months after all, its management said Wednesday.

The tiny airport, beloved for its retro look and super-fast check-in times, will now remain in operation until November, airport boss Luetke Daldrup told a press conference.

Maintaining traffic at Tegel will "enable us to create the necessary space" to adhere to social distancing measures imposed as part of the battle against COVID-19, Daldrup said.

Germany announced Wednesday that it will lift its travel warning for European countries, with flights to popular holiday destinations set to resume from mid-June.

Berlin's city government had announced on May 20 that Tegel would be shut down on June 15 for at least two months due to the coronavirus outbreak and may never reopen.

But the airport will now remain in use until November 8, bridging the gap to the planned opening of Berlin's new international airport known as BER.

BER is set to open on October 31, 2020, after repeated postponements owing to structural problems and corruption.

The airport was originally to open in 2011 but the date has been repeatedly pushed back over a series of issues, including fire safety.

BER is intended to replace Berlin's two existing airports -- Tegel and Schoenefeld.

Tegel welcomed more than 24 million passengers in 2019, making it the fourth busiest airport in Germany after Frankfurt, Munich and Duesseldorf.

It was built in just 90 days by German workers with French and American Allied forces during the Soviet blockade of Berlin in 1948-1949.

Together with the Tempelhof airport, it supported the Allied airlift operations to supply the population of West Berlin with food.

Another lease on life for Tegel, possibly the last