IGS operations had been a close battle between Pan Am and BEA, with Air France always a distant third, despite their Caravelle service to Tegel. Flying into Templehof was what mattered and Pan Am had managed to counter the introduction of turboprop Viscounts with frequency and the lower costs of the DC-6Bs. 1966 would see Pan Am turn the tables as it introduced the first regular jet service into Templehof on IGS routes.
For earlier parts in this series see:
BEA could see the writing on the wall and in October 1965 British United had flown its new One-Eleven into Templehof on a trooping flight after it was diverted from Gatow. Clearly the One-Eleven could use the small city centre field. On January 22, 1966 the first Trident landed at Templehof flown by Hawker Siddeley. A week later BEA began evaluating the One-Eleven in earnest using the series 475 demonstrator to test short-field performance at Templehof.
Nonetheless, the British were late and on March 18, 1966 Pan Am began operations with its new Boeing 727-21s, which were outfitted in a 128-seat economy configuration. Pan Am had to use some unusual approach paths between tower blocks to get the Boeing into Templehof but it managed it and obviously the 727s were a major upgrade over the DC-6Bs and Viscounts. Pan Am had increased its order for the type and initially 8 were assigned to the IGS. You could tell the airframes as they carried German Clipper names such as ‘Clipper Frankfurt’ matching the destinations Pan Am flew from Berlin. Pan Am now had more modern equipment and higher frequencies than BEA.
The 727s caused BEA a major headache and it responded by increasing the Viscount fleet to 13 aircraft and re-configuring them to a lower seating density. The seating was reduced to just 53 seats, similar to those used in the first-class cabins of its Comet 4Bs, rather than the previous 66 seat economy cabins. The BEA service was renamed as the ‘Silver Star’ and introduced first on the Berlin-Dusseldorf route on May 1, 1966. The new service also included a hot meal compared to the complimentary snacks of Pan Am. The press labelled the competing strategies as ‘Dinner oder Düsen’ i.e. dinner or jet.
The BEA move was not a success and its market share dropped from 40% to 30% forcing them to introduce Comet 4Bs from April 1, 1968. Pan Am’s share meanwhile rose from 58% to 68%. Despite the large increase in capacity Pan Am’s load factor dropped only briefly due to the lower capacity of the BEA Viscounts and a spike in demand. The Comets tookover the Bremen and Hanover routes first and then also the Cologne and Dusseldorf schedules from August 1. Lastly in November they served Munich, Nuremberg and Munster/Osnabruck. The Comets were a stop-gap. They were not well suited to flying in the air corridors and could only use the longest runway at Templehof.
BEA Comet 4B coming in to land at Templehof in 1969. BEA_De_Havilland_DH-106_Comet_4B_Manteufel.jpg: Ralf Manteufelderivative work: Altair78 [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html), GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html) or GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)]
BEA’s full solution would instead be the new BAC One-Eleven 500, or as it was called the ‘Super One-Eleven’. They first came into service on September 1, 1968 with full schedules being flown by them from November 17. This allowed the Comet 4Bs to gradually be removed with the last flight operating Berlin-Hamburg-London on April 30, 1969. The One-Eleven 500s were configured in a 97-seat single class layout.
The Super One-Elevens were specifically tailored to the IGS routes. They had the latest Decca Omnitrac systems for flying within the thin 20-mile-wide air corridors and their performance was a better match for the short routes. Viscounts continued to be used for two further years but the One-Elevens were on the majority of schedules by 1969.
Air France meanwhile had found its move to Tegel to be catastrophic to its own operations on the IGS, which by mid-1968 had fallen to account for only a 4% market-share (from 9% previously). In 1964 they dropped the Berlin-Dusseldorf route leaving them with just Frankfurt and Munich. In 1968 it was decided to effectively give-up their loss-making operations and instead they signed a route-pooling agreement with BEA whereby they would use the One-Elevens instead of their Caravelles. Certain IGS flights would from September 24 be flown as dual Air France / BEA services. These included Berlin-Frankfurt and Berlin-Munich flights where cabin crew were a mix from both airlines. The One-Elevens would wear an inconspicuous livery with the BEA titles reduced and only ‘Super One-Eleven’ titling on the tail.
In Summer 1971 the last Viscounts left IGS services. They were still flying three times daily to Bremen, Hamburg twice daily and Hanover nine times daily. The One-Elevens meanwhile flew twice daily to Bremen, five times daily to Cologne, four times to Dusseldorf, eleven to Frankfurt, nine to Hamburg, three to Hanover, six to Munich and four to Stuttgart. A couple of extra services were operated by Cambrian Airways One-Eleven 400s instead of the BEA 500s.
The Air France / BEA agreement lasted until October 31, 1972 when BEA reverted the One-Elevens back to its own colours and continued operating the routes on its own. Air France was still not happy with the route's financial performance but in order to keep its internal German traffic rights active introduced a Paris-Tegel service that routed via Cologne, alongside its direct daily service on the same route. From April 1, 1974 both services were routed via Cologne and in 1976 a Paris-Dusseldorf-Tegel service was added using new Boeing 727-200s.
The period at the end of the 1960s and dawn of the 1970s represented the zenith of IGS routes. In 1971 Templehof serviced over 5.5 million people making it Germany’s second largest airport. Most of the traffic was flown by either Pan Am or BEA. In 1972 East Germany relaxed travel restrictions between West Berlin and West Germany, which had a major impact on the demand for the IGS routes. The 1973 oil crisis also caused an economic downturn and price increases to cover for this led to even lower demand.
Below: Pan Am's 727s gained shorter titles in the early 70s:
Suddenly the IGS routes, which had been a cash-cow for both Pan Am and BEA, were losing money and accordingly the fleets of both airlines were reduced. The end was also nigh for Templehof operations as the airport was replaced by the upgraded Berlin Tegel on September 1, 1975. Pan Am and British Airways (as BEA had now become part of) transferred their operations across. Although further outside the city Tegel now offered better facilities and longer runways. With all IGS services at Tegel there was no competitive disadvantage as Air France had faced in the 60s.
Pan Am continued to use Templehof for its 727 flightdeck training but the airport’s glory days were now behind it. The IGS routes continued in reduced form from Tegel and competition would remain fierce into the 1980s. We'll look at that in part four.
Woodley, C. History of British European Airways 1946-1972. Pen & Sword Aviation
Davies, R.E.G. Pan Am An Airlines And Its Aircraft. Hamlyn
Berlin Templehof. Wikipedia
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: