Tempelhof operators keep fighting airport closure

 - May 31, 2007, 10:13 AM

Berlin Tempelhof airport operators are challenging recent decisions by both a Berlin lower court and the city authorities to close the downtown airport on October 31 next year. Windrose Air and six other executive air charter operators–AFI, AAF, AeroKing, Heli Union, Rotorflug and TAG–have filed a complaint against the latest judgment with the objective of bringing the dispute to a federal court.

Supporting the operators’ position, a Windrose spokesperson told AIN, is the recent acknowledgement by the national government that closing the airport will be expensive. For example, replacing the 24/7 fireman service with a mandatory fire suppression system would cost $52 million. The Berlin airport authority currently pays for fireman service, but the national government would pay for the automated fire suppression system. The national government, which owns 80 percent of the airport, is therefore now pushing to keep Tempelhof open, according to Windrose.

Separately, a federal court in March dismissed complaints from several thousand people who will be neighbors of the planned Berlin Brandenburg International (BBI) airport when it opens in 2011. The court also said Tempelhof and Tegel airports should close when BBI opens. However, according to Windrose, the federal Ministry of Finance recently received, from a lawyer consultancy company, a report asserting that keeping Tempelhof open only to business aviation traffic would comply with the federal court’s ruling.

CED, a joint venture led by Fred Langhammer, the former CEO of cosmetic company Estée Lauder, and Ronald Lauder, founder Estée’s son, is ready to invest $450 million to turn Tempelhof’s terminal buildings into a health center. The project hinges on the airport’s remaining a gateway for wealthy customers to arrive in business aircraft. German rail operator Die Bahn has offered to operate the airport.