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Berlin Schönefeld airport set to close in March 2021

Now operating as a terminal in the new BER airport, the former Schönefeld airport is set to stop operations in March 2021 in a bid to cut costs.

Berlin Schönefeld airport set to close in March 2021
The former Schönefeld airport, which is currently being used a Terminal 5 of the new BER airport. Photo: DPA

Since the Berlin Brandenburg airport (BER) opened after a nine-year delay on October 31st, Schönefeld (SXF) Airport automatically became BER Terminal 5. 

READ ALSO: Berlin Brandenburg (BER) airport to finally open following nine-year delay

But in light of dwindling passenger numbers, Schönefeld is set to close in March 2021.

However, the former airport – known for being a hub for discount flights in the south of Berlin – will initially close for one year, before the BER airport committee reviews whether to keep it closed permanently. 

“We have to think about whether we really need T5 in 2021,” said airport boss Lütke Daldrup. He pointed out that airport traffic in Berlin in 2020 has been only a tenth of what it was the previously year. 

“All German airports together are expecting a decline in profits of 75 percent in 2020 and a drop of 65 percent in 2021 compared to 2019,” Daldrup told the Berliner Morgenpost on Sunday.

Flight traffic is currently experiencing as dramatic a dip as it did in the spring, amid a more stringent lockdown in Germany, said Daldrup. 

Air traffic experienced a brief revival over the summer, however, which is why Tegel airport was kept open a few months longer than initially planned.

The northern Berlin airport saw its last flight depart on November 8th. 

READ ALSO: Berlin's airport closes following last flight to Tegel

Both the main Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 at BER are slated to remain open, with some airlines at Schönefeld shifting over following the closure.

The discount airlines Ryanair and WizzAir are especially affected by the move, reported the Morgenpost, as they will have to pay greater fees to park at the modernised BER. 

According to current calculations, BER's airport company needs another €500 to €550 million for the coming year, as Finance Senator Matthias Kollatz of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) recently said.

Daldrup said he therefore did not expect much resistance to the closure of Schönefeld, which is located about 20 kilometres south of the centre of Berlin. 

 

 

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IN IMAGES: Spain’s ‘scrap cathedral’ lives on after creator’s death

For over 60 years, former monk Justo Gallego almost single-handedly built a cathedral out of scrap materials on the outskirts of Madrid. Here is a picture-based ode to his remarkable labour of love.

IN IMAGES: Spain's 'scrap cathedral' lives on after creator's death
File photo taken on August 3, 1999 shows Justo Gallego Martinez, then 73, posing in front of his cathedral. Photo: ERIC CABANIS / AFP

The 96-year-old died over the weekend, but left the unfinished complex in Mejorada del Campo to a charity run by a priest that has vowed to complete his labour of love.

Gallego began the project in 1961 when he was in his mid-30s on land inherited from his family after a bout of tuberculosis forced him to leave an order of Trappist monks.

Today, the “Cathedral of Justo” features a crypt, two cloisters and 12 towers spread over 4,700 square metres (50,600 square feet), although the central dome still does not have a cover.

He used bricks, wood and other material scavenged from old building sites, as well as through donations that began to arrive once the project became better known.

A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The building’s pillars are made from stacked oil drums while windows have been cobbled and glued together from shards of coloured glass.

“Recycling is fashionable now, but he used it 60 years ago when nobody talked about it,” said Juan Carlos Arroyo, an engineer and architect with engineering firm Calter.

Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid.
Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid. Photo: (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The charity that is taking over the project, “Messengers of Peace”, hired the firm to assess the structural soundness of the building, which lacks a permit.

No blueprint

“The structure has withstood significant weather events throughout its construction,” Arroyo told AFP, predicting it will only need some “small surgical interventions”.

Renowned British architect Norman Foster visited the site in 2009 — when he came to Spain to collect a prize — telling Gallego that he should be the one getting the award, Arroyo added.

Religious murals on a walls of Justo's cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Religious murals on a walls of Justo’s cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The sturdiness of the project is surprising given that Gallego had no formal training as a builder, and he worked without a blueprint.

In interviews, he repeatedly said that the details for the cathedral were “in his head” and “it all comes from above”.

Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The complex stands in a street called Avenida Antoni Gaudi, named after the architect behind Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia basilica which has been under construction since 1883.

But unlike the Sagrada Familia, the Cathedral of Justo Gallego as it is known is not recognised by the Roman Catholic Church as a place of worship.

Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral's completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral’s completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

‘Worth visiting’

Father Angel Garcia Rodriguez, the maverick priest who heads Messengers of Peace, wants to turn Gallego’s building into an inclusive space for all faiths and one that is used to help the poor.

“There are already too many cathedrals and too many churches, that sometimes lack people,” he said.

“It will not be a typical cathedral, but a social centre where people can come to pray or if they are facing difficulties,” he added.

A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

Father Angel is famous in Spain for running a restaurant offering meals to the homeless and for running a church in central Madrid where pets are welcome and the faithful can confess via iPad.

Inside the Cathedral of Justo, volunteers continued working on the structure while a steady stream of visitors walked around the grounds admiring the building in the nondescript suburb.

“If the means are put in, especially materials and money, to finish it, then it will be a very beautiful place of worship,” said Ramon Calvo, 74, who was visiting the grounds with friends.

FIND OUT MORE: How to get to Justo’s Cathedral and more amazing images

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