With Brandenburg International Airport scheduled to open in 2011 at the site of Schonefeld military airbase to the southeast of Berlin, both Tegel and Tempelhof airports will be closed. Tempelhof in central Berlin was the first metropolitan airport to be serviced by a subway station when it opened in 1927. It is three years short of being the oldest operating major airport (Kingsford Smith International Airport in Sydney is the oldest). Protests and a lawsuit have failed to change the plan to close Tempelhof in the fall of 2008. Tegel, to the north of Berlin, would close after Brandenburg opens, the two closures eliminating competition for the new airport project.
Tempelhof is one of the last true city-center airports and its history is remarkable. The physical location is said to be land of the Knights Templar in medieval Berlin. In 1909 Orville Wright made a flight demonstration at Tempelhof. The German national airline, Lufthansa, was founded at Tempelhof in January 1926. The original terminal was constructed in 1927and replaced by the work of Nazi architects in 1934 and 1941. The crescent-shaped halls and the neighboring buildings were envisioned as a European gateway and a symbol of Hitler's Germania. The structure forms a massive 1.2-kilometer long quadrant with an enormous overhanging canopy. The space and architecture of Tempelhof is a treasure in a world of degrading air-travel courtesies and infrastructure. It is perhaps typical that Tempelhof has become in recent years a hub for discount European airlines. With its massive space, central location and business particulars it can't make a profit. It will close next October. The German national rail has signaled interest in a project using the space.