University of Florida - Berlin 2008 Study-Abroad Photojournalism Program

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by Andrew Stanfill

Andreas Peter
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Historic Templehof's Loyal Supporters

You can tell if an airport is dying by checking its unexpected heart, the lost and found. Tempelhof's is empty. The airport stands in a unique position of being more than 70 years old and still in use. That legacy ends in June 2008 when the airport will see its last flight before becoming a convention center or movie studio or one of dozens of other ideas that have not left the tarmac.

“That's not really a realistic way to use this building,” said Andreas Peter, chairman of ICAT, a group that has been fighting to save Tempelhof since plans for its closure were first mulled over in 1995.

The grounds around the airport are the real reason for its closure, Peter said. As Berlin continues its rapid growth after reunification, he believes the city wants to sell some of the land for townhouses.

The gigantic terminal building with its echoing hall is a U.N. World Heritage site and will not be torn down. Peter had hoped that Tempelhof could become a general aviation destination, with pilots’ schools and smaller groups housed right in the terminal's ample office space. Peter and his supporters even had hopes for regional carriers, like the ones he runs for a living, to carry on out of the way of international traffic at Tempelhof's unique terminal.

“It's still considered a modern concept,” he said, “because from check-in to boarding you take about 10-15 minutes.”