Oddly Enough

Three planes stranded at shuttered Berlin airport

People watch a so-called 'Candy Bomber' DC-3 airplane before a take off from Tempelhof airport in Berlin, in this file photo from October 30, 2008. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

BERLIN (Reuters) - Three propeller aeroplanes have been left stranded at Tempelhof airport in the heart of Berlin two weeks after the Nazi-built landmark was closed down and may now have to be dismantled, city officials said on Tuesday.

One of the world’s oldest commercial airports dating to 1923, Tempelhof was shut down despite protests on October 31 as part of plans to consolidate all air traffic at a new Berlin Brandenburg International airport due to open in 2011.

It is unclear why the three planes failed to leave by the October 31 deadline -- a bittersweet closing that featured hundreds of passengers taking nostalgic rides on what they thought were the final flights out of the airport.

“We have to see what the most efficient and safest method of removing the planes is,” said Marko Rosteck, a spokesman for the city government. The owners have asked for special permission to fly out but some city officials are opposed.

The airport became a symbol of freedom in West Berlin and the Cold War itself when Soviet forces blocked supplies from getting to West Berlin in 1948. The West responded by airlifting more than 2 million tonnes of food and goods into Tempelhof.

The Berlin city government is expected decide within the next few days whether the stranded planes will be allowed to fly out or will be dismantled -- and removed on flatbed trucks.

Ralf Kunkel, a spokesman for Berlin airports, told the Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel he thought the marooned planes constituted a “provocation” by die-hard opponents of the controversial decision to close the airport.

Thousands campaigned against closing the airport, just five kilometres south of the government quarter. It is unclear what will happen to the site, which still stirs strong emotions with many Berliners.