Tempelhof International Airport

Edit profile
Tempelhof International Airport
For the United States Air Force military use of this facility, see Tempelhof Central Airport Berlin Tempelhof Airport ( German: Flughafen Berlin-Tempelhof ) was an airport in Berlin, Germany, situated in the south-central borough of Tempelhof-Schöneberg. The airport ceased operating in 2008 in the process of establishing Schönefeld as the sole commercial airport for Berlin. Tempelhof was designated as an airport by the Ministry of Transport on 8 October 1923. The old terminal was originally constructed in 1927. In anticipation of increasing air traffic, the Nazi government began a massive reconstruction in the mid-1930s. While it was occasionally cited as the world's oldest still operating commercial airport, the title was disputed by several other airports, and has in any case been moot since its closure. Tempelhof was one of Europe's three iconic pre- World-War-II airports, the others being London's now defunct Croydon Airport and the old Paris - Le Bourget Airport. One of the airport's most distinctive features is its large, canopy-style roof, which was able to accommodate most contemporary airliners during its heyday in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s, thereby protecting passengers from the elements. Tempelhof Airport's main building was once among the top 20 largest buildings on earth; in contrast, it formerly had the world's smallest duty-free shop. Tempelhof Airport closed all operations on 30 October 2008, despite the efforts of some protesters to prevent the closure. A non-binding referendum was held on 27 April 2008 against the impending closure but failed due to low voter turnout.

Tempelhof was often called the "City Airport". In its later years, it mostly had commuter flights to other parts of Germany and neighbouring countries; but it had in the past received long-haul, wide-bodied airliners, such as the Boeing 747, the Lockheed L-1011 Tristar and the Lockheed C-5A Galaxy. It had two parallel runways. Runway 9L/27R was 2,094 metres (6,870 ft) long and runway 9R/27L was 1,840 m (6,037 ft). Both were paved with asphalt. The taxiway was in the shape of an oval around these two runways, with a single terminal on the north side of the airport. Other possible uses for Tempelhof are being discussed, and many people are trying to keep the airport buildings preserved.

Airlines and destinations
The last airlines to fly regularly from/to Tempelhof were:

The following air taxi operators had flown from/to Tempelhof:
  • AAF Aviona Air
  • Air Service Berlin (scheduled sightseeing flights using a historic raisin bomber Douglas DC-3)
  • AIRSHIP Air Service
  • Bizair Fluggesellschaft
  • Business Air Charter
  • Heli Unionair
  • Jet Club Deutschland Chartermanagement
  • Private Wings
  • Rotorflug
  • TAG Aviation
  • Windrose Air

The site of the airport was originally Knights Templar land in medieval Berlin, and from this beginning came the name Tempelhof. Later, the site was used as a parade field by Prussian forces, and by unified German forces from 1720 to the start of World War I. In 1909, Frenchman Armand Zipfel made the first flight demonstration in Tempelhof, followed by Orville Wright later that same year. Tempelhof was first officially designated as an airport on 8 October 1923. Lufthansa was founded in Tempelhof on 6 January 1926. The old terminal, originally constructed in 1927, became the world's first with an underground railway. The station has since been renamed Paradestraße , because the rebuilding of the airport in the 1930s required the airport access to be moved to a major intersection with a station now called Platz der Luftbrücke after the Berlin Airlift. As part of Albert Speer's plan for the reconstruction of Berlin during the Nazi era, Prof. Ernst Sagebiel was ordered to replace the old terminal with a new terminal building in 1934. The airport halls and the adjoining buildings, intended to become the gateway to Europe and a symbol of Hitler's "world capital" Germania, are still known as one of the largest built entities worldwide, and have been described by British architect Sir Norman Foster as "the mother of all airports". With its façades of shell limestone, the terminal building, built between 1936 and 1941, forms a 1.2 kilometre long quadrant. Arriving passengers walk through customs controls to the reception hall. Tempelhof was served by the U6 U-Bahn line along Mehringdamm and up Friedrichstraße ( Platz der Luftbrücke station). Zentralflughafen Tempelhof-Berlin had the advantage of a central location just minutes from the Berlin city centre and quickly became one of the world's busiest airports. Tempelhof saw its greatest pre-war days during 1938”“1939, when more than 52 foreign and 40 domestic aircraft arrived and departed daily from the old terminal while the new one was still under construction. The air terminal was designed as headquarters for Deutsche Lufthansa, the German national airline. As a forerunner of today's modern airports, the building was designed with many unique features including giant arc-shaped hangars for aircraft parking. Although under construction for more than ten years, it was never finished because of World War II. The building complex was designed to resemble an eagle in flight with semicircular hangars forming the bird's spread wings. A mile-long hangar roof was to have been laid in tiers to form a stadium for spectators at air and ground demonstrations.

World War II
Weserwerke started war production in a new building for assembling Junkers Ju 87 "Stuka" dive bombers and later Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighter planes in Tempelhof's underground tunnels. Aircraft engines were trucked to Tempelhof and joined to finished airframes. The airport is the hub of a "hub and spoke" arrangement of underground tunnels, and parts for the airplanes were brought from all parts of the city to the air base to be assembled and then flown out. Germany did not use Tempelhof as a military airfield during World War II, except for occasional emergency landings by fighter aircraft. Soviet forces took Tempelhof in the Battle of Berlin on 24 April 1945 in the closing days of the war in Europe following a fierce battle with Luftwaffe troops. Tempelhof's German commander, Colonel Rudolf Boettger, refused to carry out orders to blow up the base, choosing instead to kill himself. After he died, the Russian troops attempted to clear the five lower levels of the airbase, but the Germans had booby-trapped everything and many were killed, leading the Russian commander to order the lower levels to be flooded with water. The lower three levels are still flooded to this day, having never been opened up due to unexploded ordnance. In accordance with the Yalta agreements, Zentralflughafen Tempelhof-Berlin was turned over to the United States Army 2nd Armored Division on 2 July 1945 by the Soviet Union as part of the American occupation zone of Berlin. This agreement was later formalised by the August 1945 Potsdam Agreement, which formally divided Berlin into four occupation zones. The 852nd Engineer Aviation Battalion arrived at Tempelhof (Code Number R-95) on 10 July 1945 and conducted the original repairs.

Berlin Airlift
On 20 June 1948 Soviet authorities, claiming technical difficulties, halted all traffic by land and by water into or out of the western-controlled section of Berlin. The only remaining access routes into the city were three 25 mile-wide air corridors across the Soviet-occupied zone of Germany. Faced with the choice of abandoning the city or attempting to supply its inhabitants with the necessities of life by air, the Western Powers chose the latter course, and for the next eleven months sustained the city's 2½ million residents in one of the greatest feats in aviation history. Operation Vittles, as the airlift was unofficially named, began on 26 June when USAF Douglas C-47 Skytrains carried 80 tons of food into Tempelhof, far less than the estimated 4,500 tons of food, coal and other essential supplies needed daily to maintain a minimum level of existence. But this force was soon augmented by United States Navy and Royal Air Force cargo aircraft, as well as British European Airways (BEA) and some of Britain's fledgling wholly privately owned, independent airlines. The latter included the late Sir Freddie Laker's Air Charter, Eagle Aviation and Skyways. On 15 October 1948, to promote increased safety and cooperation between the separate US and British airlift efforts, the Allies created a unified command ”“ the Combined Airlift Task Force under Maj. Gen. William H. Tunner, USAF, was established at Tempelhof. To facilitate the command and control, as well as the unloading of aircraft, the USAF 53rd Troop Carrier Squadron was temporarily assigned to Tempelhof. In addition to the airlift operations, American engineers constructed a new 6,000- foot runway at Tempelhof between July and September 1948 and another between September and October 1948 to accommodate the expanding requirements of the airlift. The last airlift transport touched down at Tempelhof on 30 September 1949. Tempelhof also became famous as the location of Operation Little Vittles: the dropping of candy to children living near the airport. The original Candy Bomber , Gail Halvorsen noticed children lingering near the fence line of the airport and wanted to share something with them. He eventually started dropping candy by parachute just before landing. His efforts were expanded by other pilots and eventually became a part of legend in the city of Berlin.

Cold War
As the Cold War intensified in the late 1950s and 1960s, access problems to West Berlin, both by land and air, continued to cause tension. USAF aircraft were harassed as they flew in and out of the city. Throughout the Cold War years, Tempelhof was the main terminal for American military transport aircraft accessing West Berlin. In 1971 one of the pilots during the Berlin Airlift, and the original Candy Bomber, Gail Halvorsen, returned to Berlin as the commander of Tempelhof airbase. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany, the presence of American forces in Berlin ended. The USAF 7350th Air Base Group at Tempelhof was deactivated in June 1993. In July 1994, with President Clinton in attendance, the British, French, and American air and land forces in Berlin were deactivated in a ceremony on the Four Ring Parade field at Tempelhof in accordance with the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany. The Western Allies returned a united city of Berlin to the unified German government. The U.S. Army closed its Berlin Army Aviation Detachment at TCA in August 1994, ending a 49-year American military presence in Berlin.

Postwar commercial use
American Overseas Airlines (AOA), at the time the overseas division of American Airlines, inaugurated the first commercial air link serving Tempelhof after the war with a flight from New York via Shannon, Amsterdam and Frankfurt on 18 May 1946. This was followed by AOA's inauguration of West Berlin's first dedicated domestic air link between Tempelhof and Frankfurt's Rhein-Main Airport on 1 March 1948. AOA had the distinction of being the only commercial operator at Tempelhof to maintain its full flying programme for the entire duration of the Berlin Blockade (26 June 1948 " 12 May 1949). Following the end of the Berlin Blockade, AOA launched additional dedicated scheduled domestic services linking Tempelhof with Hamburg Fuhlsbüttel and Düsseldorf Lohausen from 6 March and 1 June 1950 respectively. On 25 September 1950, Pan Am acquired AOA from American Airlines and established a presence at Tempelhof. (In addition to continuing AOA's original, multistop Berlin " New York route and dedicated internal German services connecting Berlin with Frankfurt, Hamburg and Düsseldorf, between 1955 and 1959, Pan Am commenced regular, year-round scheduled services to Cologne, Stuttgart, Hanover, Munich and Nuremberg from Tempelhof. ) Pan Am's initial equipment for its new Berlin operation were unpressurised, 60-seat Douglas DC-4s as these were widely available at the time due to the large number of war-surplus C-54 Skymasters on the second-hand aircraft market. 1950 was also the year Air France joined Pan Am at Tempelhof. Air France resumed operations to Tempelhof following their cessation during the war years. This was furthermore the time Allied restrictions on the carriage of local civilians on commercial airline services from/to West Berlin were lifted. It entailed transferring responsibility for processing all commercial flights to West Berlin's city government, including the operation and maintenance of associated passenger, cargo and mail handling facilities. These changes gave a major boost to West Berlin's fledgeling post-war scheduled air services. By mid-1951, BEA transferred its operations from Gatow to Tempelhof, thus concentrating all West Berlin air services at Berlin's iconic city centre airport. From then on, several of the new, wholly privately owned UK independent airlines and US supplemental ("non-sked" ) carriers commenced regular air services to Tempelhof from the UK, the US and West Germany. These airlines initially carried members of the UK and US armed forces stationed in Berlin and their dependants as well as essential raw materials, finished goods manufactured in West Berlin and refugees from East Germany and Eastern Europe, who were still able to freely enter the city prior to the construction of the infamous Berlin Wall, on their flights. This operation was also known as the second Little Berlin Airlift. One of these airlines, UK independent Dan-Air Services (operating as Dan-Air London), would subsequently play an important role in developing commercial air services from Tegel for a quarter century. During the early to mid-1950s, BEA leased in aircraft that were bigger than its Tempelhof-based fleet of Pionair, Viking and Elizabethan piston-engined airliners from other operators to boost capacity, following a steady increase in the airline's passenger loads. (BEA continued to augment its Berlin fleet with additional aircraft leased from other airlines on an ad hoc basis. This included an ex- Transair Vickers Viscount 700 belonging to its newly formed independent rival British United Airways, which was damaged beyond repair on 30 October 1961 in a non-fatal landing accident at Frankfurt Rhein-Main Airport at the end of a passenger flight that had originated at Tempelhof. ) In 1958, BEA began replacing its ageing piston airliners with brand-new, state-of-the-art Vickers Viscount 800 series turboprop aircraft. These aircraft's greater range and higher cruising speed enabled BEA to inaugurate a non-stop London Heathrow " Berlin Tempelhof service on 1 November 1965. For many years, this was the only non-stop international scheduled air service from Tempelhof. On 19 November 1959, a Pan Am DC-4 became the first aircraft to operate a scheduled all-cargo service from West Berlin. This service linked Tempelhof with Rhein-Main Airport once-nightly, all year round. On 2 January 1960, Air France, which had served Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich and its main base at Paris Le Bourget/ Orly during the previous decade with DC-4, Sud-Est Languedoc and Lockheed Constellation piston-engined equipment, shifted its entire Berlin operation to Tegel because Tempelhof's runways were too short to permit the introduction of the Sud-Aviation Caravelle, the French flag carrier's new short-haul jet, with a viable payload. (Air France's Caravelle IIIs lacked thrust reversers that would have permitted them to land safely on Tempelhof's short runways with a full commercial payload. ) On 1 March 1960, Pan Am launched its second dedicated scheduled all-cargo flight from Berlin, linking Tempelhof with Hamburg Fuhlsbüttel. 1960 was also the year Pan Am re-equipped its Tempelhof-based fleet with larger, pressurised Douglas DC-6B propliners. The first of these joined Pan Am's Berlin fleet on 27 June of that year. Although the DC-6B was a less advanced aircraft than either the Viscount or the Caravelle, it was more economical. By the early 1960s, Pan Am had a fleet of 15 DC-6Bs stationed at its Tempelhof base, which were configured in a higher-density seating arrangement than competing airlines' aircraft. (Pan Am's DC-6Bs were originally configured in a 76-seat, all- economy layout. The subsequent introduction of subsidies for all scheduled internal German services from/to West Berlin resulted in steady network growth as well as service frequency and passenger load increases. To cope with the sharply higher traffic volumes, aircraft seat densities were increased twice " initially to 84 and subsequently 87 seats. ) This fleet eventually grew to 17 aircraft, which gave Pan Am the biggest aircraft fleet among the three main scheduled operators flying from West Berlin. It furthermore enabled it to compensate for the DC-6's lack of sophistication with higher frequencies than its competitors, thereby attaining a higher market share (60%) and capturing a greater share of the lucrative business travel market than its rivals. During that period, Pan Am moreover achieved an industry-leading ultra short-haul load factor of 70% on its eight scheduled internal routes from Berlin, making the airline's Berlin routes the most profitable in its worldwide scheduled network. Following the completion of the Berlin Wall on 13 August 1961, the West German government introduced a route-specific subsidy of up to 20% for all internal German scheduled air services from and to West Berlin to help the airlines cope with the resulting falloff in traffic and maintain an economically viable operation on these lifeline routes. These came into effect on 1 March 1962 for all tickets sold in Germany, including Berlin. (To qualify for the subsidised rate under this system, the passenger was required to purchase a round-trip ticket for a scheduled internal German flight from/to West Berlin in Germany. Once he/she had checked-in at the airport, the airline collected a coupon attached to his/her ticket, which was subsequently handed in to the relevant German authorities for reimbursement. ) By the early 1960s, a number of UK independents and US supplementals began operating regular charter flights from Tempelhof. These carried both inbound tourists from the US, the UK and other countries as well as local outbound tourists to the emerging holiday resorts in the Mediterranean. US supplemental Saturn Airways became the first airline the Allied Air Attachés in Bonn licensed to operate a series of regular charter flights from West Berlin. It operated West Berlin's first inclusive tour (IT) charter flight programme from Tempelhof under contract to local package holiday company Flug-Union Berlin using Douglas DC-6A/Cs and DC-7Cs. London Gatwick-based Overseas Aviation (CI) was among the first UK independents to operate regular charter flights from West Berlin utilising Vikings and Argonauts. These operated from Tempelhof under contract to the Berlin Senate and the city's Technical University as well as Berliner Flugring, a local package tour operator that began as a consortium of West Berlin travel agents arranging IT flights to holiday resorts in Europe. On 2 December 1964, a Boeing 727-100 became the first jet aircraft to land at Tempelhof. Boeing had leased the aircraft to Pan Am for a special flight from Frankfurt to Berlin to demonstrate to the airline the 727's ability to operate from Tempelhof's short runways. Pan Am indicated its intention to place an order for six 727s for its Berlin operation, as a result of the aircraft using only half the 5,900 ft runway during landing. 26 October 1965 marked British Aircraft Corporation's new One-Eleven jet's first arrival at Tempelhof when a British United 200 series operating a trooping flight under contract to the UK Ministry of Defence diverted from Gatow. On 29 January 1966, BEA began evaluating the BAC One-Eleven's suitability for its Berlin operations, with the start of a series of test flights conducted on its behalf by BAC's 400 series demonstrator. This included a number of takeoffs and landings at Tempelhof to test the aircraft's short-field performance. On 18 March 1966, Pan Am became the first airline to commence regular, year-round jet operations from Tempelhof with the first examples of a brand-new fleet of an initial eight Boeing 727 100 series, one of the first short-field performance jet aircraft. These aircraft were configured in a single class featuring 128 economy seats. Pan Am's move put BEA at a considerable competitive disadvantage, especially on the busy Berlin"Frankfurt route where the former out-competed the latter with both modern jet planes as well as a higher flight frequency. BEA responded to Pan Am's competitive threat by increasing the Berlin-based fleet to 13 Viscounts by winter 1966/7 to enable it to offer higher frequencies. This also entailed re-configuring aircraft cabins in a lower-density seating arrangement, as a result of which the refurbished cabins featured only 53, Comet-type first-class seats in a four-abreast layout instead of 66, five-abreast economy seats. In addition, BEA sought to differentiate itself from its main competitor by providing a superior in-flight catering standard. (BEA's Silver Star service included complimentary hot meals on all flights whereas Pan Am merely offered free on-board snacks. Sections of the local press dubbed the contrasting strategies of the two main protagonists plying the internal German routes from Berlin " estimated to be worth £15-20 m in annual revenues " the Dinner oder Düsen? (Dinner or Jet?) battle.) Henceforth, the airline marketed these services as Super Silver Star. BEA furthermore responded by supplementing its Tempelhof-based Viscount fleet with de Havilland Comet 4B series jetliners from August 1968. Although these aircraft could operate from Tempelhof's short runways without payload restrictions, they were not suited to the airline's ultra short-haul operation from Berlin (average stage length: 230 miles) given the high fuel consumption of the Comet, especially when operating at the mandatory 10,000 feet altitude inside the Allied air corridors. This measure was therefore only a stopgap until most of BEA's Berlin fleet was equipped with BAC One-Eleven 500s. The introduction of Pan Am's 727s to the Berlin market represented a major step change because of the aircraft's ability to carry more passengers than any other contemporary aircraft type used by scheduled carriers in the short-haul Berlin market, and its ability to take off from and land on Tempelhof's short runways with a full commercial payload as only light fuel loads were required on the short internal German services. Compared with BEA, Pan Am's 727s carried 20% more passengers than the British carrier's Comet 4Bs and up to 2½ times as many passengers as the latter's Viscounts (in Silver Star configuration). Within two years of Pan Am's introduction of jet equipment on the bulk of its internal German services from/to West Berlin, its market share rose from 58% to 68%. Despite the huge increase in capacity over the DC-6B (128 vs. 87 seats), load factors dropped during the first year of operations only. (Pan Am's second year of jet operations from Tempelhof saw load factors steadying while the third saw a slight increase. ) The lower seat density in BEA's re-configured Viscounts combined with higher flight frequencies, superior catering and increased promotion proved insufficient to counter the appeal of Pan Am's new jets, which were laid out in a comparatively tight, 34- inch pitch seating configuration. This resulted in BEA's market share declining from 38% at the beginning of this period to 27% at its end. On the other hand, BEA's reduced capacity in the domestic air travel market between West Berlin and West Germany enabled it to attain higher load factors than its competitors. (Air France, West Berlin's third scheduled carrier, which had suffered a continuous traffic decline ever since the transfer of Berlin operations to more distant Tegel at the beginning of 1960 due to Tempelhof's operational limitations that made it unsuitable for its Caravelles, was worst affected by the equipment changes at the latter airport during the mid- to late 1960s. Over this period, the French airline's market share halved from 9% to less than 5% despite having withdrawn from Tegel"Düsseldorf in summer 1964 and concentrated its limited resources on Tegel"Frankfurt and Tegel"Munich to maximise the competitive impact on the latter two routes. To reverse growing losses on its Berlin routes, Air France decided to withdraw from the internal German market entirely and instead enter into a joint venture with BEA. This arrangement entailed the latter taking over the former's two remaining German domestic routes to Frankfurt and Munich and operating these with its own aircraft and flightdeck crews from Tempelhof. The Air France-BEA joint venture became operational in spring 1969 and terminated in autumn 1972. ) On 1 September 1968, BEA began replacing its Berlin-based Viscounts with the new One-Eleven 500s, which it called the Super One-Eleven. These aircraft featured a 97-seat, single-class configuration. 1968 was also the year all non-scheduled services, i.e. primarily the rapidly growing number of inclusive tour charter flights, were concentrated at Tegel to alleviate increasing congestion at Tempelhof and to make better use of Tegel, which was underutilised at the time. Commercial air traffic from/to Berlin Tempelhof peaked in 1971 at just above 5½ million passengers (out of a total of 6.12 million passengers for all West Berlin airports during that year). Pan Am accounted for the bulk of this traffic with more than 3½ million passengers, followed by BEA with over 2.1 million passengers. 1971 was also the year BEA's last Viscount departed Berlin. Airlines Destinations Air Berlin Seasonal: Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Palma de Mallorca Avitrans Växjö Brussels Airlines Brussels Cirrus Airlines Mannheim, Saarbrücken CSA Czech Airlines Chartered: Dublin, Manchester Germanwings Cologne/Bonn, München, Stuttgart, Zweibrücken Hamburg International Chartered: London-Gatwick InterSky Friedrichshafen, Graz, Berlin-Tegel Lufthansa Mannheim, Saarbrücken


1 photo and 2 drawings

Building Activity

  • OpenBuildings
    OpenBuildings updated 11 media, uploaded a media file and added a digital reference
    about 5 months ago via OpenBuildings.com
  • Michael Nicholson
    Michael Nicholson updated 4 media
    about 5 months ago via OpenBuildings.com