Tag Archives: Germany

2008 Top 10 Airport News

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
London Stansted Airport
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
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
Berlin's Tempelhof Airport shut for good
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
Brussels Airport Cargo Plane Crash
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
Hong Kong International Airport
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
Madrid Airport Spanair crash
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
Dublin\'s airport problem with its radar system
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
Bangkok airport 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
London Heathrow 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.

[Pictures from Flickr – some rights are reserved: London Stansted, Beijing, Berlin Tempelhof, Brussels airport, Hong Kong, Madrid, Dublin, Bangkok, London Heathrow

Final Call for Berlin Tempelhof

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]

Lower Rhineland airport Weeze: worth a visit?

I’m sure you have all seen various types of airports in your lifetime. There are tiny grass or dirt based landing strips that function as airports on remote locations, small huts with paved runways in rural areas, airports that serve as regional hubs and then there are the big and bigger international airports like London Heathrow, JFK and the likes. But there is a new set of airports out there: converted military airfields transformed to regional hubs for low(est) cost airlines. The Lower Rhineland airport Weeze (IATA: NRN) fits into that description.

50 kilometres northwest of Dusseldorf and 30 km southeast of the Dutch town of Nijmegen, Weeze airport used to be the military airbase RAF Laarbruch. According to Wikipedia, the airport serves 6 airlines but its main customer clearly is the Irish run Ryanair with a fairly good selection of flights to various destinations in Europe.

My flight back to London Stansted (IATA: STN) that day was slightly delayed, but other than that operations at the airport were efficient and I passed through the security checks fairly quickly only to discover there was absolutely nothing on the other side. Well, okay, nothing is a strong word. There was a bar and a small kiosk but that was about it (it did find my price checking items though, see below). So, what can you do in such a situation? Here are 3 suggestions:

  1. Find your next destination through the selection of available Lonely Planet guidebooks at the small kiosk (the selection actually was pretty decent!)
  2. Look through the magazine offerings and find the one magazine with the weirdest freebie (in my case it was an inflatable sword added to a children’s magazine called “Benjamin Blümchen”)
  3. Flick through your iPod and find the song of the day (I went for “Hellsongs – Symphony of Destruction” although not because of the lyrics or the title, simply because I like the tunes and it’s funny)


Airport Facts and Ratings

Airport Name Airport Weeze
Website http://www.airport-weeze.de
Design LateDeparture.com Plane Award PointLateDeparture.com Plane Award Point
Shopping LateDeparture.com Plane Award Point
Toilets LateDeparture.com Plane Award PointLateDeparture.com Plane Award PointLateDeparture.com Plane Award Point
Overall LateDeparture.com Plane Award PointLateDeparture.com Plane Award Point
Chanel No 5 Eau de Parfum, 100ml at the Duty Free Shop €87.00 (£68.80)
Bottle of Veuve Cliquot at the Duty Free Shop €34.90 (£27.60)


[Picture from Flickr]

The Quest to Find Starbucks at Berlin Tegel

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”.

What the hell can you do at Berlin’s Tegel Airport?

Despite its capital status Berlin has no representative airport so far – which leads to the hassle of few direct flights to international destinations and the question of how to spend your time at Tegel or Schönefeld when your flight is delayed since both airports are very small.

When you have several hours, go back home or to the city center as both airports are close to the city. If you have less time try this:

  1. Find out that “Tegel” is only one label – which man is honored by giving his name to the airport as well? (No internet research allowed!) One tip: He died in a plane crash.
  2. Find the Starbucks in the airport (This is a tricky one! I once thought I was at the wrong airport when somebody told me to meet at the Starbucks.)
  3. Walk around the circle of Tegel and count your steps. Add some entertainment for the other passengers by a) counting loudly b) running c) running trailing your luggage behind you! I assume that should take less than 3 minutes when you shout out loud enough so people jump out of your way (“Bahn frei, Osterei!”).


Please write down your records and I will try to beat them next time I fly from Tegel!


Airport name: Berlin Tegel Airport.
IATA code: TXL
Website: http://www.berlin-airport.de/EN/
Design factor: 1/5
Shopping factor: 1/5
Toilets factor: 2/5
Overall factor: 3/5 (because it’s just 10 minutes from my home and easy to reach!)