It’s been the first real weak after the festive season when most people got back to work resulting in more airport news. Interestingly three pieces received us from Australia this week – our home country. But we swear we had nothing to do with any of these little stories directly though!
This is going go be a juicy airport news update. In the mix are news pieces such as French protests, a singer shutting down an entire airport or a passenger landing a plane in Dublin, to name just three.
After Sandy’s dominance in our news reporting last week, this week airport news saw a wider, geographical spread with articles reaching us from Australia, South Africa, Germany or the United Kingdom.
Wow, what a week this one was! We’ve almost seen it all and – even more interestingly – some airport related news came from countries we not regularly hear from: Egypt, the Ukraine and Cuba.
The London Olympics are over but if you think that’s the end of Olympic airport news, you’re in the wrong. We found two news articles even after the flames were extinguished. Then, there was a jet skier causing troubles in New York, a further worrying update from Berlin and a “Jackass” in North Carolina.
Well, of course it happens when I’m away without access to my computer: the site goes down. My sincere apologies for the disruption – it seems like one of the WordPress plugins has caused the crash. I’m still investigating which one, so please bear with me while I’m fixing this issue asap. Let’s move on and focus on some of the important and interesting, airport related news from the past few days. I’ve got a nice, mixed bag of goodies for you!
Berlin Tegel (IATA: TXL) is a funny airport. It’s there where according to Wikipedia, Aviation history dates back to the early 20th century, when the Prussian airship battalion was based there and the area became known as Luftschiffhafen Reinickendorf. After that a lot had happened in the area (for further details refer to your history books) until in the 1960s the current airport took shape. And what a shape it took! Tegel Airport is notable (or funny as I called it) for its hexagonal terminal building around an open square, which makes walking distances as short as 30 m (98 ft) from the aircraft to the terminal exit.
I am sure you agree that 2008 has been a very
difficult eventful year. This also holds also true for the aviation industry as our selection of the top 10 news stories about airports shows:
10. London Stansted blockade
Early December environmental activists have stopped flights at London’s Stansted airport (IATA: STN) after breaking through to the runway, raising security concerns at Britain’s third-busiest airport. The protests against a further expansion of the airport caused a serious knock-on effect on the airport’s flight operations causing over 50 flights to be cancelled.
9. Opening of Beijing airport Terminal 3
On March 26, Beijing airport (IATA: PEK) opened its new Terminal 3, designed by Sir Norman Foster, after four years of construction. It is the world’s largest airport building, covering more than a million square meters, designed to accommodate an estimated 50 million passengers a year by 2020.
8. Closure of Berlin’s iconic Tempelhof airport
Open one, close one; on the October 30, Berlin’s iconic Tempelhof airport closed down for good. Originally opened in 1923, the later built airport halls and neighbouring buildings, intended to become the gateway to Europe and a symbol of Hitler’s “world capital” Germania. Read our full coverage here.
7. Kalitta Air crash at Brussels airport
On Sunday, 25 May a Boeing 747 cargo plane overshot the runway at Brussels Zaventem airport (IATA: BRU) and crashed resulting the aircraft to break into 2 parts. The spectacular picture made the news everywhere.
6. Frightening landing at Hamburg’s airport
A low pressure system named “Emma” nearly caused a disaster at Hamburg airport (IATA: HAM) in March. The Lufthansa A320 plane struggled to make the runway through 90 kilometre-per-hour crosswinds resulting in the 39 year old pilots last minute go-around procedure and a safe second attempt. The frightening approach was caught on camera and is an extraordinary piece which will now probably be used all over the world in pilot training classrooms.
5. Hong Kong wins ‘Airport of the Year’ award
In July Hong Kong International airport (IATA: HKG) was named best Airport in the world, in the passenger survey results released by Skytrax. Despite being “only” rated in 5th place in the most-timely airport survey, Hong Kong received the prestigious award after Skytrax collected 8.2 million questionnaires completed by passengers over a 10-month time period. Read our congratulating article here.
4. Spanair crash at Madrid airport
A combination of basic pilot error and an electrical failure was the possible cause of the crash of a Spanair plane at Madrid’s Barajas airport (IATA: MAD) on 20 August that killed 154 people. The airport was closed for several hours after the accident.
3. Radar malfunction at Dublin airport
In the midst of the summer holiday season, Dublin airport (IATA: DUB) made the news with its malfunctioning radar system which meant that controllers lost some functionality on their screens meaning they were unable to see the labels attached to ‘blips’ that signify individual aircraft. The problem resulted in massive delays and many cancellations over several days.
2. Bangkok blockade
Protesters supporting the People’s Alliance for Democracy stormed Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport (IATA: BKK) in late November, occupying the departure lounge and blocking all exits. With that 3,000 people were stranded within the airport and another 350,000 were stranded within Thailand. Read our interview with an affected traveller.
1. Chaos at London Heathrow’s new Terminal 5
In March BAA, the company that owns Heathrow airport, opened its newest addition of what should have been a proud event for London’s most criticised airport. Instead, the opening resulted in a PR disaster with BAA losing thousands of bags over several months. The event then became one of the triggers leading to the demands of breaking up BAA’s monopolistic ownership of airports in the UK.
Every now and then I write about airports that are currently in the news for one or another reason. For your convenience, I have now also created a new category exactly for these kind of posts.
Today, Berlin’s city airport, Berlin Tempelhof (IATA: THF) sadly made it into the news. I write sadly, because the airport will close down for good today after having been in the service for 85 years. The last scheduled plane will take off for Mannheim (IATA: MHG) today at 21.50h local time .
Berlin Tempelhof was probably one of Europe’s most famous airports, mainly because of it’s importance in history. Originally opened in 1923, the later built airport halls and neighbouring buildings, intended to become the gateway to Europe and a symbol of Hitler’s “world capital” Germania. They are still known as the largest built entities worldwide, and have been described by British architect Sir Norman Foster as “the mother of all airports”. After the end of World War II, the airport became the main hub for the airlift operations into Berlin.
After Berlin decided to focus on the extension of Berlin Schoenefeld (IATA: SXF) as the main hub into Germany’s capital, it soon became evident that the days of Berlin’s “City Airport” will be numbered. Finally, on 27th April 2008 the failed referendum for keeping the airport open sealed its fate.
Unfortunately, I only landed at Berlin Tempelhof once and that was years ago, so therefore I cannot provide you with the usual ratings (not that it would matter much now anyway). Wikipedia, however, mentions that it had the “world’s smallest duty-free shop”.
[Picture from Flickr]
A couple weeks ago we were all challenged to find the Starbucks shop at Berlin Tegel (IATA: TXL). I then even commented that I was totally unaware of a Starbucks at Tegel. In fact, I was very surprised to hear there was one since I’ve been to this airport dozens of times in the past and have never spotted the coffee shop. So, is it really that well hidden? Well, watch the video and see for yourself as I went on “The Quest to Find Starbucks at Berlin Tegel”.