It was a historic moment, when Berlin’s Tegel airport shut down its lights forever on Sunday. After the city was divided post-war, it was the last step in reducing from four to only one airport in Germany’s capitol city.

The new “Berlin-Brandenburg Willy Brandt Airport” is actually located outside of the city and belongs to the state of Brandenburg, leaving the city of Berlin without any official commercial airport.

The last day of operation at Berlin Tegel
The last day of operation at Berlin Tegel
The last night of operation at Berlin Tegel
The last night of operation at Berlin Tegel

Originally designed for only 10 million passengers, the people behind this airport handled more than 24 million passengers in 2019. It was always tight, but everyone from check-in to ground handling, from pilots to ATC were contributing to keep Berlin flying; while BER was delayed again and again over the past decade.

Aerial photo of Berlin Tegel Airport in the past
Aerial photo of Berlin Tegel Airport in the past
Inside of the Tegel Terminal
Inside of the Tegel Terminal (Photo Sam Chui)

On the 7th of November, all airlines performed their last ever commercial flights to Tegel; before moving to the new BER airport, which is now fully operational. Aviation Photographer Sebastian Thoma, who is an air traffic controller for Berlin Arrival and Departure airspace, spent the day at Tegel airport and brought back some beautiful photos from this event.

Airlines such as KLM, British Airways and TAP Air Portugal were all given an official farewell by taxiing “over the bridge” around the iconic terminal and a water salute.

Eurowings and Sundair performed some farewell flights over the city of Berlin. At 23:00 local time on Saturday, both airlines were flying passenger services from TXL to BER.

Sundair was using their Airbus A320 D-ASGK, which was still wearing old Airberlin colors. Tegel was Airberlin’s homebase before the airline filed for bankruptcy and performed its last flight (callsign BER4EVR – “Airberlin forever”) from Munich to Berlin Tegel exactly three years ago.

To commemorate this event, the last flight out of Tegel by Sundair that night was operated under Callsign TXL4EVR (“Tegel forever”).

Another special movement was had by Lufthansa, who sent an Airbus A350XWB (D-AIXI) for its last flight; taking part in a little light show in front of the ATC tower. Germany’s largest airline had a lot of flights to Berlin, but was never using the capitol city as a hub. Only very few longhaul destinations were ever operated by Lufthansa out of TXL, the last one being New York for less than a year after Air Berlin ceased operations in 2017. Only flights to Munich and Frankfurt were left to connect people with the flag carriers hubs and its longhaul destinations.

On Sunday, there was only one aircraft left in Tegel. An Air France A320 which had the honor of performing the very last take-off before the airport was closed forever. The airline was also the first one landing in TXL 60 years ago, starting commercial flight operation in the French sector of the city.

Nothing left to say apart from “Thank you, Tegel”, you will be sadly missed. You were the airport of short distances, the airport which ran like a Swiss clock! Farewell!

Video of Berlin Tegel Last Day

Sebastian Thoma designed shirts and masks for his ATC colleagues and himself to show his love for Berlin Tegel Airport. These shirts and masks are available online for purchase.

All photos and text by Sebastian Thoma