Berlin Airport: Our daily Tegel

The end of Tegel Airport has been sealed for years.
 The airport will be shut down no later than six months after the operational start of the capital's airport BER.
 All the more glorious is the future, at least when it comes to the plans of the Berlin Senate, which were presented on Tuesday evening.



    As the huge hall is filled to the last seat, the presenter asks a question to the audience. How many people are here for professional reasons at this conference, which deals with the future of Tegel Airport. Ten, fifteen hands are raised. "And who is here because he is a citizen and just interested in Tegel?" Now almost all hands go up.


    Few topics move the population of Berlin as much as their old airport. Where Tegel has fans above all. Because of its striking hexagonal architecture, the short distances and because the airport is so close to the center. By contrast, one day Tegel has to be closed down, a civic movement has formed last year, which has finally even forced a referendum. At last September's vote, 56 percent of voters opted for Tegel to remain what it always was: an airport.


    This had no consequences, the end of the airport has been sealed for years. For example, the plan approval procedure stipulates that the airport will be shut down no later than six months after the startup of the capital's airport BER. According to expert reports, this is not legally shaken, nor is it politically intended. In addition, Tegel has not had an operating license since 2004, but only a kind of grace period.


    All the more glorious is the future, at least when it comes to the plans of the Berlin Senate, which were presented on Tuesday evening


    Every Berliner notices this at the latest when he has to start or land in Tegel. Although the airport has been bursting at the seams for years, it has never been as bad as in the past few weeks and months. The baggage handling system is outdated, which is why a case chaos erupts again and again. There is a lack of ground personnel and infrastructure, which means that you as a passenger ever before the start or after landing one hour in the plane sits, because no towing vehicle comes, the passenger stairs missing or at the airport simply nobody goes to the phone when report the pilots from the cockpit. Tegel has long been considered one of the most annoying airports in the world. In addition there is the aircraft noise. According to the Senate Department for Environment, Transport and Climate Protection, 300,000 Berliners are affected more than in any other German city.


    All the more glorious is the future, at least when it comes to the plans of the Berlin Senate, which were presented on Tuesday evening. An old industrial hall, where otherwise the Technical University conducts experiments, has been transformed into a mixture of exhibition center and party location. Stands are set up, plans hang on the walls, in between you can let drones fly up between green nets. Pink lighting and techno music, while movies are played on a giant screen. On which is visualized what Tegel should be soon: a mixture of city district, technology park and green area namely. You can see how the Beuth University of Applied Sciences with its own campus moves into the halls, and start-ups and technology companies are set to settle here under the title "Urban Tech Republic". There should be offices and businesses, in a hangar the Berlin fire department would like to have a training center. And there is still the Schumacher quarter: an area with 5000 apartments, in which climate-friendly living, with solar energy, green facades, a huge park, bike paths and charging stations for the electric cars. "The excavators will arrive in 2020," says Philipp Bouteiller, managing director of Tegel Projekt GmbH.


    The audience listens to everything, goes from stand to stand, discusses with the Berlin politicians who sit on the podium. Not all Tegel fans agree with these ideas. Some find that far too few apartments are being built, and that, according to the Senator for Urban Development, only a part of them are to be subsidized. Others would rather have more space for the universities or generally more freedom. The people of the Berlin Club Commission, a sort of lobbying association of the Berlin party people, fear again that here "after work everything could be dead" and demand that also move clubs in the quarters.


    Throughout the evening words such as "Smart City", "Internet of Things", "Blockchain" or "autonomous driving" are buzzing through the room, terms from the world of high-tech, which are in stark contrast to what's happening with the airport in Berlin the actual state is. Because there is finally this huge elephant in the room: All this is only possible if the capital airport BER actually opened in 2020, which speaks for some, but that was already thought in 2012, 2013, 2016 and 2018th Spoken is about it not, the B-word does not fall once.

A life in the entry lane
                        Constant noise and sleepless nights let especially the residents in Tegel hope for the completion of the new airport. But meanwhile a counter-movement has formed: The Tegelians.
                    By Verena Mayer, Berlin