Wednesday February 21, 2024

Climate protesters target airports in Munich, Berlin

Published : 08 Dec 2022, 22:50

  By Frederick Mersi and Simon Sachseder, dpa
Police try to remove four climate activists who glued their hands to the runway at Franz-Josef-Strauss Airport. Photo: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/dpa.

German climate protesters targeted two major airports on Thursday, with flight operations briefly disrupted at Munich airport and an attempt to do the same in Berlin apparently foiled by police.

Flights at Munich were running normally again after the climate protest blocked one runway, the airport said at about 11 am (1000 GMT) on Twitter.

The activists had glued themselves to the tarmac. "They were removed again very quickly by the federal police," a spokesperson said.

Because the southern runway was in continuous operation, there were no flight cancellations and only minor delays, the statement said.

The protesters disrupted air traffic for around 45 minutes, Munich airport said on Twitter, adding that the activists were prevented from taking over the southern runway.

The activists have been arrested.

In a simultaneous action on Thursday, climate activists in Berlin tried for a second time to disrupt operations at Berlin's BER international airport.

Police said they managed to put a stop to the operation at BER and detached demonstrators from the tarmac who had glued themselves down.

Flight operations were not affected, a police spokesperson said.

Two activists had written on Twitter: "We are on the taxiway at BER and MUC [Munich airport]."

A dpa photographer reported that a group of climate activists had cut a hole in a fence, but were then intercepted by security guards or police officers.

The police spokesperson said they prevented six further activists from reaching the tarmac. Police put the fast reaction down to reinforced security after the last incident at Berlin airport.

"Protest against environmental destruction or against climate destruction is justified and it is right," German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Thursday on the sidelines of a visit to the South African capital Pretoria.

"But it should be chosen in such a way that people do not suffer unnecessarily, so that the acceptance in the population for climate protection is not endangered," he added.

The German Airports Association (ADV) criticized the action on Thursday. The association lacked "any understanding" for it, it said, saying it would be unacceptable if the safety of air traffic was endangered.

"More serious interference in air traffic is rightly prosecuted," it added.

On November 24, climate activists had stopped flight operations at the Berlin airport for almost two hours. Some glued themselves to the tarmac, others cycled around the site.

Climate protesters have been more active across Germany in recent months, with the most prominent activists being the so-called Last Generation group based in Berlin.

Group members have glued themselves to paintings in museums, organized street blockades and are now blocking important airports.

Especially since the airport action, calls for tougher consequences for climate protesters that disrupt public life are growing louder and many activists have been arrested and face criminal charges.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said after the protesters' first Berlin airport stunt that the actions were "seriously dangerous."

Last Generation is unbothered by the authorities' and politicians' response to its protests so far. "The prospect of preventative detention or fines does not deter these people," a group of its members said on Twitter last week.