Climate activists on bikes block private jet runway in Amsterdam

The protesters were chased around the tarmac by Dutch authorities

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Climate activists changed tactics this weekend, going from throwing food at masterpieces and gluing themselves around chairs to causing havoc at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport by cycling across the runway.

On Saturday afternoon, hundreds of protestors from Greenpeace, Extinction Rebellion and other organisations, breached a private jet runway at the airport, biking around the tarmac in a bid to prevent aircraft from taking off.

Dressed in illuminous yellow overalls and jackets, the protesters cycled across the eastern section of the Netherlands’ main international airport, one of Europe’s busiest travel hubs.

Extinction Rebellion, Greenpeace and other organisations' members cycle past and sit in front of aircraft during their protest. AFP

Dutch police and airport security staff ran after the cyclists trying to catch them, pulling some off their bikes.

Other activists sat underneath parked planes or chained themselves to jets to physically prevent them from flying. It was all part of an 'SOS for the climate' protest, designed to object to aviation industry pollution and its greenhouse gas emissions, as well as local noise pollution.

At least one person was injured and more than 200 arrests were made, according to reports. A spokesperson for the national military told Dutch news agency ANP that the protesters had committed a criminal offence.

Dewi Zloch, spokeswoman for Greenpeace in the Netherlands, said that Schiphol is the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the country and that the group’s aim was for “fewer flights, more trains and a ban on unnecessary short-haul flights and private jets”.

No commercial flights were affected by the protest.

On Twitter, the European Business Aviation Association said that an undisclosed medical flight bound for Amsterdam with a patient on board was diverted as a result of the protesters' actions.

Greenpeace responded saying, the protests "only block the private jets on the platform, arriving flights are not hindered. The landing strip is still in use, according to the authorities".

Schiphol consistently ranks among Europe's busiest airports and, pre-pandemic, was one of the world's busiest air hubs for international passengers.

Greenpeace had warned authorities that here would be some kind of action at the airport and, in a statement released on Friday, Ruud Sondag, chief executive at Schiphol, told protesters to "feel welcome, but let’s keep things civil".

Airport authorities had announced plans to be an emission-free airport by 2030, and Sondag stated that he shares the activists’ sense of urgency.

Updated: November 07, 2022, 7:48 AM
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