The Success of the Airlift and the End of the Blockade
In the spring of 1949 the Berlin Airlift was a well-oiled machine that had no trouble supplying West Berlin. At Easter 1949, 1,398 aircraft flew to the three airfields of Gatow, Tempelhof and Tegel within 24 hours. Planes took off and landed every minute. This monumental transport achievement was a major factor in the failure of the Soviet blockade, which was lifted on May 12, 1949. The access routes to West Berlin were open once again. Nevertheless, the Airlift continued until September 30, 1949 in order to fill the storerooms and forestall another blockade. In all, 2.1 million tons of goods were brought to West Berlin by air, while the return flights carried people, mail and some industrial products out of the city. Alongside the Airlift´s successes, it also claimed casualties: 31 Americans, 39 Britons and at least 8 Germans lost their lives in accidents on the ground or in the air.