The easyJet flight from Newcastle Airport arrives at Schonefeld Airport, which is situated to the south-east of the city, and which was until recently the main airport serving East Berlin. As such it seems a shadow of its former self, its past life as the main airport of East German state airline Interflug, but conversely it appears set to be about to undergo a massive revival as a 'low-cost' airport, with many of the new European 'no frills' start-ups and established carriers serving the airport. A much smaller terminal than I expected has the obligatory German airport 'besucherterrase', the viewing deck covering almost the entire roof area of the building - cost is 2EUR and there is the usual security check at its entrance on the second floor of the terminal at the left hand side as you enter the building from landside.
Movements are very slow at Schonefeld (EDDB/SXF) but it's the sort of airport where you never know what might show up - while we waited around for the Aeroflot Airbus A319 to show at about 1645L, we saw what we could, albeit at quite a distance, of the ILA Show taking place on the south side of the airfield, on the other side of the two, heavily-displaced parallel runways. It was odd to watch display participants such as F-4 Phantoms making their 'deadside' turns over an international airport !
Berlin has a superb public transport system, one of the best I've seen at any city anywhere, and Schonefeld is served by an 'S'-bahn railway (line S9) - best value is a 'Takeskarte' (day ticket) which can be bought from the ticket machines on the arrival level of the terminal, which gives unlimited travel on any of the city's railways (overground 'S' and underground 'U' lines) as well as buses, for only 6EUR !. There is a free shuttle bus which takes you from the frount of the terminal to Schonefeld station, but it is only a short walk anyway. The S9 line enters the inner zone 'A' in the east of the city and then runs westwards through the north portion to Zoologischer Garten, the many stops along the way offering quick connection possibilities to where-ever your accomodation lies - we never had to wait for more than 4 minutes for any underground train during our three days in the city.
Wednesday night was taken up by another reason for our visit, a 'gig' at the superb Tempodrom auditorium in the centre of the city, but for Thursday we had allocated visits to the two other main Berlin City airports. Tegel was first and we took the 'TXL' bus from Alexanderplatz after breakfast - this however took almost 50 minutes, and a better suggestion may be to take the U6 line to Kurt-Schumacher Platz, where a connecting 128 bus takes you the final 10 minutes to Berlin-Tegel (EDDT/TXL), or alternatively the U7 line to Jakob Kaiser Platz to pick up the 109 or X9 bus.
Tegel is one of the oddest airport terminals I have ever visited, a small 'anti-terminal' leading to a large lozenge shaped structure which you are able to walk around. It again has a superb viewing deck effectively on top of this circular building, from which all activity can be seen - again the entrance fee is 2EUR and there is a short security check. This deck opens at 10am, so before this use can be made of the two 'tower' structures at either end of the terminal containing staircases leading up to various executive lounges, indeed there appeared to be viewers spending all day here. Much busier than Schonefeld, traffic was still slow, although interest is kept up by a steady stream of German charter and scheduled airlines - the place reminded me very much of a Dusseldorf diluted about five times !.
Mid-afternoon we left to visit the most famous of the Berlin Airports, Tempelhof (EDDI/THF), the Berlin Airlift aerodrome. Easiest way from Tegel is via the U6 line from Kurt-Schumacher Platz again all the way down to Platz der Luftbrucke station which is immediately outside the massive curved structure that sweeps around the north-west corner of the large airfield. With no viewing possibilities reported from inside this terminal we set off walking from the station due south along a main thoroughfare, which we found ultimately followed the U6 line past Paradestr. station and then to Tempelhof station itself. At various spots along this road views were possible back around the southern end of the terminal building, and across the airfield, but it wasn't until we reached the main junction alongside Tempelhof station and turned left did we get a full view of the parking aprons, at quite a distance. We waited around for an expected LGW arrival from Dortmund (again movements are very sporadic) at the far east end of the platform at Tempelhof station itself which is situated directly under short finals for the southerly of the two runways. Aircraft pass very low over the station, the Belgian Air Force ERJ-135 and the Dornier 228 being read off with ease with the naked eye. An excellent overview of the airfield, which is expected to close later this year, can be had from the train itself on the S41 or S42 'ring' lines which pass east-west through Tempelhof station, as they arrive/depart to the east of the station.
Thursday night was spent in a superb Irish Bar (creatures of habit you know !) at Hakescher Markt station, and on Friday morning we returned to Schonefeld to visit the ILA Show and ultimately return home. Luggage lockers are situated at Schonefeld station, and a free shuttle bus was available to take us all the way around the other side of the airfield to the show entrance. It was nice to walk around an airshow again after many years away from such events, although it was quite a compact site and consequently very crowded. An hour or so back on the main terminal roof and then it was time for departure back to Newcastle - in between displays !
The log below is an almost complete one of the airliners only seen, just to show what is possible from such a trip - thanks to Andrew Murray for its compilation.
Wed 12/5/04 Berlin-Schonefeld EDDB/SXF
D-ABIK 737-530 24823 2000 Lufthansa
D-ABIM 737-530 24937 2011 Lufthansa
D-ABIP 737-530 24940 2034 Lufthansa
D-ABXF 737-330 23527 1285 (Indonesian Airlines)
PH-VAE A.320-212 0579 V Bird Airlines
VP-BDO A.319-111 2091 Aeroflot - Russian International Airlines
Thu 13/5/04 Berlin-Tegel EDDT/TXL
D-ABAG 737-86J 30879 871 Air Berlin
D-ABAN 737-86J 28068 36 Air Berlin
D-ABAO 737-86J 28069 42 Air Berlin
D-ABAY 737-86J 30499 567 Air Berlin
D-ABBA 737-86J 30570 879 Air Berlin
D-ACPG CRJ-700 10034 Lufthansa CityLine
D-ACPS CRJ-700 10100 Lufthansa CityLine
D-ADBN 737-31S 29058 2946 Deutsche BA
D-AGEE 737-35B 24238 1626 Deutsche BA
D-AGEK 737-3M8 25015 1991 Deutsche BA