BERLIN, May 20 (Xinhua) -- The Berlin-Tegel Airport, the largest in the German capital, has been given permission to close its doors on June 15 due to low passenger traffic caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Berlin senate announced on Wednesday.
Airport operator Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg (FBB) agreed to the closure and announced that it would "ensure that civil air traffic is served in accordance with demand at all times" while safeguarding government flight operations.
The airport, eight kilometers northwest of Berlin city center, is used for official state visits by Germany's international guests. With the closure, government delegations could switch to Berlin Schoenefeld Airport, which is located 18 kilometers southeast of Berlin, until the capital's new airport BER is completed and operational.
Initially, the Berlin-Tegel Airport, which handled more than 24 million passengers in 2019, was scheduled to end operations at the end of the year in favor of Berlin's new yet unfinished airport BER.
"The aim is to be able to organize flight operations in a stable, efficient and reliable manner over the coming months until the BER becomes operational on October 31," said Engelbert Luetke Daldrup, chief executive officer (CEO) of the airport operator FBB.
In the last weeks, only 2,000 passengers per day departed from Berlin-Tegel Airport in contrast to about 100,000 per day a year ago. With the main check-in building at Tegel already closed in mid-March, the airport was now allowed to halt all operations for two months starting in June.
After the initial two-month suspensions, operations at the airport could still be gradually ramped up again. "When I have 50,000 guests, Tegel will go straight back online," said Luetke Daldrup. But he was "not very optimistic" to reach such passenger numbers again within a few months.