Historic Tempelhof Airport — which played a key role in the Berlin airlift in the wake of World War II — will close to passengers in 2008, Germany´s top administrative court confirmed Tuesday.
The court threw out a bid to prevent Tempelhof´s closure as part of plans to expand Schoenefeld airport, a former military airport on the city´s outskirts, into Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport.
Several airline companies that use the centrally located Tempelhof airport tried to block the closure. But the Leipzig-based Federal Administrative Court rejected their claims, approving an earlier decision by a Berlin-Brandenburg administrative court that argued in February that acceptable alternatives were available and that the move did not infringe on the airlines´ rights. The money-losing Tempelhof is scheduled to shut on Oct. 31, 2008. Three airlines still using Tempelhof — Brussels Airlines, the German carrier Cirros Airlines and the Austrian company Intersky — will be required to reroute their flights to Berlin´s Schoenefeld airport starting Nov. 1.
Tempelhof, which opened in 1923, was expanded under the Nazis into a huge, horseshoe-shaped complex. Its massive terminal is one of the most prominent remaining examples of the era´s architecture in Berlin. After World War II left the city divided into east and west, Tempelhof became the hub of the nearly yearlong, U.S.-led Berlin airlift when the Soviets blockaded West Berlin in 1948.
Tempelhof — the closest of the city´s three international airports to downtown Berlin — is now used only for short-haul flights with small aircraft. While it is too small for many modern jets, its backers value its location. Schoenefeld will be expanded into the capital´s new hub, Berlin-Brandenburg International, by 2011. Berlin´s Tegel Airport also is slated to close.