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Low vote may doom Tempelhof Airport

April 27, 2008 at 11:14 PM

BERLIN, April 27 (UPI) -- A referendum aimed at saving Tempelhof Airport, which played a key role in the Berlin Airlift in 1948, failed Sunday because of low turnout, officials said.

Election officials said those who did vote favored keeping Tempelhof open by a 3-2 margin, The Washington Post reported. However, only 22 percent of registered voters cast ballots, falling short of the 25 percent required to certify the results.

Mayor Klaus Wowereit said in a statement that plans for a new international airport will proceed. He urged the group fighting for the airport to "respect" the results of the vote.

The unusual referendum was forced by preservationists who argue that Tempelhof is important for its history and as an architectural reminder of the early days of commercial aviation.

Older Berliners remember 1948 when an unending procession of U.S. planes landed at Tempelhof. The airport had been enlarged significantly under the Nazis.

Officials say Tempelhof's center city location creates noise pollution. The central hall, one of the largest buildings in the world, is a designated historic landmark and will be preserved.

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