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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

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Since the start of Germany’s Oktoberfest, the incidence of Covid infections in Munich has risen sharply. Though a connection with the festival can’t yet be proven, it seems likely.

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Two weeks after the start of Oktoberfest, the Covid numbers in Munich have more than tripled.

On Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported an incidence of 768.7 for the city of Munich, though updated figures for the end of the festival are not expected until later in the week. Usually, on weekends and public holidays, there is a delay in reports.

In the entire state of Bavaria, the incidence value on Sunday was 692.5.

According to Munich’s public health officer, Beatrix Zurek, bed occupancy in Munich hospitals has also increased. Two weeks ago, 200 beds in Munich were occupied by Covid patients, whereas there are now around 350.

Though a relationship between the sharp rise in infections with Oktoberfest, which ended on Monday, can’t be proven at the moment, it seems very likely, according to experts. A significant increase in Covid incidences has also been shown at other public festivals – about one and a half weeks after the start. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s famed Oktoberfest opens after two-year pandemic hiatus

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, around 5.7 million visitors came to this year’s Wiesn according to the festival management – around 600,000 fewer than at the last Oktoberfest before the pandemic in 2019, when there were 6.3 million.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) took to Twitter to comment on the rise in incidence in Munich during the Oktoberfest. “This would not have been necessary if self-tests had been taken before admission,” he said.

“Compared to the price of a measure of beer, €2-3 (for tests) wouldn’t have mattered,” he said.

Even before the start of the Wiesn, he had spoken out in favour of people taking voluntary self-tests. Lauterbach stressed that now is the time for special measures against Covid.

“The development shows what will happen if the states wait too long with the mask obligation in indoor areas,” he added.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s new Covid-19 rules from October

In neighbouring counties, where many Oktoberfest visitors came from, the number of Covid cases has also risen noticeably.  Beatrix Zurek said that it is unclear, however, how much of a role Oktoberfest played in these figures, as people are currently much more active socially overall, with concerts and other events also taking place throughout the state.

Christoph Spinner, an infections specialist at Munich’s Klinikum, has urged people not to be alarmed by the rising numbers.

“We had expected rising incidences here. We knew that there could be a doubling, tripling, even quadrupling,” he said.

He said that this is no cause for concern, as many people have been vaccinated or have also recovered from previous Covid infections, so any new infections are therefore usually mild.

The virologist advises people over 60 or with pre-existing conditions to get a second booster vaccination, but otherwise said people shouldn’t be alarmed by the rising incidences.

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