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Berlin's New Major Airport to Open This June

The new Berlin Brandenburg Airport will open for business on June 3. Actually, it's not really new per se. It's a complete rebuild from the former Schonefeld Airport.

It promises the usual major-city European airport facilities, including a rail station under the main building and good highway access. Old Schonefeld and Tegel will shut down, and all air service will be concentrated at the new facility. Finally, Berlin will have an airport worthy of an important capital city, according to many in the industry.

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"Berliners are really waiting for the new airport. We say it's one of the last missing jigsaw puzzle pieces in the resurrection of Berlin as an international mega city," said Burkhard Kieker of VisitBerlin.

And now, allow me a bit of nostalgia. My first visit to Berlin was at a time when East Germany still completely surrounded the isolated city. Its only air service from the West was on British, French, and U.S. airlines using two separate fields within the previously occupied area of Central Berlin Tegel in the French sector and Tempelhof in the American sector—while Eastern-Bloc lines used the old Schonefeld hub.

I entered and departed through Tempelhof, which was almost in the city center and surrounded by buildings, many of them tall. It was surely convenient, with a subway station at the entrance, but it was far too small to meet the demands of a major city.

My later visits were through Tegel, which had been modernized and became the main airport for U.S.–based airlines. Access wasn't good, but it was fairly close. Tempelhof was still used by short-haul commuter lines during my most recent visit, but it was permanently shut in 2008.

Do you plan to fly into the new Berlin airport after it opens?

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