Berlin Tegel, official title: Berlin Tegel Airport “Otto Lilienthal” (TXL) is Berlin's main international airport and is located in the North West of the city. Upon arriving you will probably be a little underwhelmed, expecting Germany's capital city to have an airport the size of London's Heathrow, or Paris's Charles de Gaulle. Berlin Tegel, however, has more in common with a small regional airport than the aforementioned powerhouses of commercial aviation, but despite its diminutive size Berlin Tegel still manages to process nearly 20 million passengers each year, making it Germany's fourth busiest airport. Most international airlines fly into Berlin Tegel, including German Wings, Air Berlin, British Airways, Air France, and Lufthansa, with many of the budget airlines flying into Berlin's second airport, Schönefeld. A new international airport, “Berlin Brandenburg Airport”, is under construction and when complete in 2016 will be the sole Berlin airport, with both Berlin Tegel and Berlin Schönefeld scheduled for closure.
Opponents of the Berlin Tegel criticise its diminutive size, scarcity of duty free shopping opportunities, as well as its outdated visage but when it comes to ease of transit, this airport cannot be beaten. Due to its unique hexagonal design and decentralised passenger control, the journey from the plane through customs and baggage claim is astonishingly quick and once you have your bags you only have around 30 metres to walk to either the taxi stand or the express bus stop which will have you in the centre of town in 30 minutes!
Image © Günter Wicker / Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH
How to get to and from Berlin Tegel
Berlin Tegel is located close to the centre of Berlin, and as such, is pretty convenient. The airport is integrated into Berlin's public transport system with a couple of express bus options depending on what part of town you want. Public transport is definitely the most cost effective solution but there are of course plenty of Taxis, airport transfer services or care hire companies available.
The cheapest option available when travelling to Berlin Tegel is the Bus. The airport is serviced by 4 bus lines including 2 express services. You will need to purchase an AB 2 hour ticket which you can do either from the bus driver or from the ticket machines located at the airport bus stop.
TXL – JetExpressBus
X9 – JetExpressBus
S+U Zoologischer Garten – S+U Jungfernheide – Flughafen Tegel
U Osloer Straße – U Franz-Neumann-Platz – U Kurt-Schumacher-Platz – Flughafen Tegel
S +U Zoologischer Garten – S+U Jungfernheide – U Jakob-Kaiser-Platz – Flughafen Tegel
Travelling from Berlin Tegel (TXL) to anywhere central will take around 25 minutes in a taxi and you can expect it to cost around €25 depending on exact destination and level of traffic.
Image © Tomislav Medak (Flickr)
Short History of Berlin Tegel
Since the 19th Century the area has been used as a Prussian Hunting ground, base of operations for the Prussian Airship Battalion, a Nazi military training ground, and a rocket research and testing site.
Located in the French sector after World War Two, it wasn't until the Berlin Blockade that an airport was built on the site when it became apparent that the existing West Berlin Airport “Tempelhof” would not be sufficient. The French military ordered the construction of a 2,428m runway, at the time the longest in Europe, which, miraculously, took only 90 days to complete. Commercial operations commenced at Berlin Tegel in 1960 but due to Berlin's peculiar legal status, only airlines based in either France, England or the US were allowed access. For more information on the Berlin Airlife have a read of our Berlin History Guide.
The current terminal building was completed in 1974 along with an upgrade of the runways and in 1975 Berlin Tegel became the main airport of West Berlin. With Tempelhof Airport's closure in 2007 (it has now been turned into an amazing park/public space) combined with the increasing number of visitors to Berlin, passenger numbers have increased around 70% pushing the humble airport to capacity.
Image © Andrew Nash (Flickr)
The Future for Berlin Tegel
Shortly after German re-unification in 1990, planning began on the design and construction of a new international airport in Berlin which would replace the three existing airports. The project has been plagued with problems, experienced significant delays and is massively over budget. Originally scheduled to open in 2010, due to a number of construction flaws as well as corruption and mis-management it is highly likely that it wont be open before 2016. There is also speculation that the new airport wont be able to cope with the passenger demand so it may be necessary to keep Berlin Tegel open after all...