This weekend turned out to be a reasonably historic one for the aviation industry. Berlin’s old Tegel Airport closed 60 years after the first Air France flight opened it. While some airlines moved over to the new Brandenburg airport last weekend, some waited until this weekend to make a move.
Berlin’s airport offering has been undergoing a total transformation over the past week. Last weekend Simple Flying reported on the opening of the new Brandenburg Airport some nine years late. However, while this was cause for celebration, it also meant the end of the city’s historic Tegel Airport.
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Airlines say farewell on Saturday
Saturday saw the majority of airlines operating their final flights from Tegel Airport. For airlines such as Finnair and Brussels Airlines, they simply flew from Tegel one day and will return to Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport the next time they fly to the city.
Notable airlines operating their final flight to Tegel on Saturday were airBaltic, Austrian, British Airways, Brussels Airlines, Finnair, KLM, LOT Polish Airlines, Lübeck Air, SWISS, and TAP Air Portugal. Each of the listed airlines received an unforgettable farewell from the airport authority, with the fire service on permanent call for water cannon salutes.
Lufthansa’s last departure
As mentioned, it was merely a case of leaving Tegel one day for many airlines, fly to Brandenburg the next. However, for a couple of airlines, the closure of Tegel was exceptionally notable. The first such airline was Lufthansa, who flew an Airbus A350 into the airport for the occasion.
Germany’s flag carrier’s final flight was sold out, with passengers onboard traveling to Munich Airport. While on the ground, the aircraft had a “Danke TXL” (Thank you Tegel) graphic projected onto its fuselage.
The airport’s final departure
Most airlines saw their final flight to Tegel take place on Saturday. However, one special flight departed from the airport on Sunday. This was the Air France flight to Paris. Air France’s final departure from the airport was significant as the airline was the first airline to use the airport 60 years ago. The airline closed a chapter in aviation history that it had opened.
Berlin’s airport authority went out of the way to make this final departure extra special. The aircraft was parked up on a unique gate painted on the apron just for the occasion.
Once the aircraft was ready to depart, rather than taxiing straight to the runway, it first made a Tegel terminal loop.
The airport then gave the aircraft the customary water cannon salute that so many aircraft had received the day before it taxied to the runway for the airport’s final departure at 15:39.
All that remained was for the airport to officially close. A final speech was given over the airport’s radio frequency calling the airport “A small light for the world – a big light for Berlin.” Following a final “Danke TXL,” the airport’s lights were switched off, marking the end of an era.
Have you flown from Tegel? Let us know your favorite memories of the airport in the comments.