Farewell to one of Europe's finest airports

Christopher Beanland
The sun is setting on an airport icon - getty

Just like TV quiz show Blockbusters, Berlin's Tegel Airport was dominated by hexagons, and has inspired a cultish devotion.

From a plane window you can appreciate that the whole thing is shaped like a giant hexagon, while at ground level the senary shapes recur in the paving and the ceilings. Sadly, we won't be seeing that view again, because Tegel is to close on June 1 – ostensibly for two months, though the likelihood of it ever re-opening is slimmer than your chances of getting into Berghain, as Berlin's delayed and derided new Brandenburg Airport is set to replace it on October 31.

Tegel's quirks are myriad: bespoke signage, clackety split-flap departure board, a copy of the Red Baron's scarlet triplane slung above check-in, and a pile of evocative architecture by Meinhard von Gerkan and Volkwin Marg, who did the brutalist terminal and the more colourful funky fire and petrol stations on the perimeter.

The Red Baron's aircraft - getty

Despite its shortcomings (small gates; tiresome security queues; no rail link) it had many advantages: the shortest stroll of any airport in the world from plane to taxi and a road journey into town of 20-odd minutes if you were lucky with traffic, plus a currywurst stand outside the terminal which looked like an S Bahn carriage. The British Airways lounge was a kooky time capsule where you could stock up on Teutonic treats like Berliner Kindl beer, sekt, sausages, potato salad, Milka chocolate and apple cake while you waited for your flight back to Heathrow or London City.

Tegel became West Berlin's main airport from 1974: David Bowie, Nick Cave and Ronald Reagan flew in (not together). It was a hub for Pan-Am, then Air Berlin, and more recently EasyJet. Until October 31 flights will move to Schoenefeld, the former East Berlin airport which welcomed chain smoking communist apparatchiks from Minsk and Moscow flying on Interflug. Schoenefeld is not without its own mid-century charm but is blander than Tegel, just as East Berlin was more banal than West when the city was divided; also it's seen a mushrooming series of clunky temporary terminal additions.

Tegel has garnered a cult following - getty

Brandenburg is actually just a new terminal across the runways from Schoenefeld, and Schoenefeld will live on from October as Brandenburg Airport's Terminal 5. Berlin will then have one airport, where once it had three – Tempelhof is now a popular park and festival venue.

Tegel will become a giant office for tech startups, while housing will be built on the runways. Its many admirers never gave up though: last year hundreds of posters went up around Berlin begging to save the airport, and you can even buy I Heart TXL (its airport code) T-shirts where the heart is replaced by a hexagon. It will live on in its many celluloid appearances, the most recent being in Netflix's Unorthodox. Like its home city Tegel was fun, faded and singular –almost wilfully so – and will be much missed.

It is filled with quirks - getty

Have you flown from Tegel? Please leave your comment and memories below.