News: Airport gets reprieve

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The Independent Travel

Europe's most traveller-friendly airport has been given a last-minute reprieve. Tempelhof airport in Berlin was due to close at the end of October. But the location, just six minutes by U-Bahn (underground railway) from the centre of the German capital, is greatly valued by air travellers.

Some of the airlines that were due to be evicted to either of the city's other airports went to court to seek an extension. The airport's shutdown has been postponed, not cancelled. "A new date for the closure has not been set, but it is unlikely to be in the very near future," says Linda Borchert of the German national tourist office in London.

The reprieve gives British travellers the chance to visit an historic and atmospheric airport. Tempelhof was the Berlin terminal for Zeppelin flights. It became the primary airport for the Berlin Airlift of 1948, in which Allied aircraft took supplies to West Berlin when the Soviet Union sealed the land frontiers for a time.

The airport, known as Zentralflughafen, handles only smaller aircraft, mostly on domestic flights. Fares tend to be higher than from the other Berlin airports, and Tempelhof has made a series of losses. Yet plenty of travellers are prepared to pay a premium because Tempelhof is so much more accessible than Tegel or Schönefeld airport. The layout of the terminal, and the proximity to the U-Bahn, means travellers can reach Friedrichstrasse in the centre of Berlin within 15 minutes of touchdown.

The best airline serving Tempelhof from Britain is SN Brussels (0870 735 2345; www.flysn.com), from Birmingham, Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester, Newcastle, Southampton and Bristol via the Belgian capital for around £205 return.

*Riem airport in Munich, which closed 12 years ago when the new Franz Josef Strauss airport opened, is to be the location for next year's Federal Garden Show, to be held from 28 April to 9 October. More details: www.buga2005.de.

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