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Tempelhof rescue fails to take flight

A bid to save Berlin's Tempelhof Airport, described by Norman Foster as the ‘mother of all modern airports’, has failed.

The airport – identified by Albert Speer as central to the reconstruction of Berlin during the Nazi era and designed by Ernst Sagebiel in the late 1930s – split the German capital over whether it should be demolished.

According to the German press, the airport failed to attract the necessary 25 per cent of Berliners to make a referendum count. It was backed by only 21 per cent.

A new, larger airport outside the city meant Tempelhof's passenger numbers dwindled to just 350,000 out of Berlin’s 20 million air passengers in 2007, and the airport is losing millions each year.

Tempelhof was dear to many West Berliners as it played a central role in the 1948 Berlin airlift which kept the city stocked with food and fuel during the Soviet blockade.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been among those fighting to keep the airport. She said: ‘The continued operation of Tempelhof isn't just significant to the economy and to jobs. To many people and to me personally, this airport, with the airlift, is a symbol of the city's history.’

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