Tempelhof Airport Vote Fails; Field Poised To Close

 - April 29, 2008, 10:10 AM

The citizens of Berlin showed little interest on Sunday in keeping historic Tempelhof Airport open. Supporters of the German downtown airport took advantage of rarely used local legislation to force a public referendum and obtained the organization of a popular vote by city authorities. While the result is valid only as a recommendation, a strong show of support could have influenced authorities to spare the airport. While a majority of those who voted decided in favor of Tempelhof, the required threshold wasn’t met. To be valid, at least 25 percent of all eligible voters would have needed to vote in favor of keeping the airport. In the end, a low turnout (35 percent) resulted in less than 21 percent of all eligible citizens–including those who did and didn’t go to the polls–voting to keep Tempelhof open. Berlin’s socialist mayor, Klaus Wowereit, plans to close Tempelhof in October and later also Tegel Airport. He intends to turn the city’s third airport, Schoenefeld, into a giant hub to be completed by 2011. As matters stand now, it is likely that Tempelhof will cease operations by October.