Airlines fight to save Berlin airport
11 November 2003 , BERLIN - Airlines servings the German capital's smallest but most centrally located airport vowed Tuesday they would fight plans by Berlin's mayor to close it down next year.
11 November 2003
BERLIN - Airlines servings the German capital's smallest but most centrally located airport vowed Tuesday they would fight plans by Berlin's mayor to close it down next year.
Mayor Klaus Wowereit announced Monday that Tempelhof Airport, located just six kilometres from the city centre, is to be shut on 1 November 2004.
Wowereit said closure was necessary so as not to endanger attempts to build a new international airport outside Berlin and also because Tempelhof was running up annual losses of EUR14 million.
But the 13 airlines using Tempelhof said in a statement they would take legal action to prevent the closure.
"We are ready to go all the way to the European Court," said Andreas Peter, CEO of the airline Bizair and head of Tempelhof airline interest group lobby (ICAT).
According to ICAT Tempelhof only makes a loss because it is saddled with an outdated Nazi era terminal sprawling over 300,000 square metres - half of which is empty.
Meanwhile, efforts to build Berlin's new airport near the old East Berlin airport at Schoenefeld south of the city have suffered repeated setbacks since the 1990 German reunification.
Airport privatization bids have failed and Mayor Wowereit now insists the new airport will be built with state funding despite the fact that Berlin's city government is buried under over EUR50 billion of debt.
Closing down Tempelhof and the city's main Tegel airport in former West Berlin is seen by Wowereit as the best way to guarantee success of the future airport dubbed Berlin-Brandenburg International.
But the delays in getting the new airport started may mean the German capital remains stuck in second class status as far as air travel goes.
Germany's main airports are well-established and expanding in Frankfurt, Munich and Duesseldorf. Berlin, in embarrassing contrast, does not even offer a single transatlantic flight to North America.
Tempelhof, which has a modest capacity of 1.5 million passengers annually, is used mainly by business passengers and served by small turbo-prop and jet planes for flights to other European cities.
Built by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in 1939, Tempelhof served in the 1948 to 1949 Berlin airlift during which vital supplies were flown to Cold War West Berlin by U.S. and British aircraft after the Soviet Union closed all land routes in a bid to seal off the city from the West.
Subject: German news