The French airline first took up operations from Berlin-Tegel 60 years ago, on the 2nd of January 1960. At the same time, this date marks the beginning of all civilian air travel at Tegel – in doing so, Air France opened up the route service of the airfield long used only for military purposes. The connection went from Berlin via Frankfurt to Paris and was carried out using a Caravelle jetliner. Air France resumed flight operations from Berlin for the first time since the outbreak of war ten years prior to this. Up until the relocation to Tegel, the airline flew from Tempelhof Airport, yet the runways and landing strips there weren’t up to scratch for modern jet aircraft.
Connection to the Western World
Due to its occupied status, only allied airlines were allowed to fly in Berlin, with Air France being the third allied airline to fly to West Berlin as of the 5th of January 1950, following American Overseas Airline (AOA, later PanAm) and British European Airways (BEA, later British Airways). Together with AOA and BEA, Air France was granted the role of connecting West Berliners with the western world without any elaborate checkpoint control from 1950.
The German-French Friendship across the Sky
In 1964, PanAm also took up scheduled flights from Tegel, with all charter airlines eventually moving from Tempelhof to the North Berlin airport in 1968. After the opening of the new terminal in 1974, all civilian air traffic was transferred from Tempelhof to Tegel in the following year. Air France saw many highs and lows during its time at the Berlin location up to Germany’s reunification, often dependant on the decisions made by the four victorious powers. Highlights include the introduction of the Concorde to Berlin-Tegel in 1976 – prior even to its route service. But even after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the lifting of all restrictions in Berlin’s air traffic, the airline still remained true to the German capital. And 60 years after taking up operations in Tegel, Air France still connects the metropoles on the Spree and the Seine today: The flight plan includes six flights every day with the direct connection from Berlin-Tegel to Paris Charles-de-Gaulle.