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Germany: Climate activists cause flight delays, cancelations

July 13, 2023

Last Generation activists hindered operations at airports in Hamburg and Düsseldorf. Some were reported to have glued themselves to areas near runways.

 Group of police standing behind mesh fence at airport
Police trying to detach activists from the asphalt in DüsseldorfImage: David Young/dpa/picture alliance

"Last Generation" climate activists on Thursday blockaded airports in the German cities of Hamburg and Düsseldorf, causing major disruption to flights.

Activists said they had cut through fences at both airports and that several people had glued themselves to the ground in the runway areas.

The protesters said their actions aim to highlight the rising numbers of plane passengers, which are causing increasing climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions in the aviation sector.

"Instead of presenting a concrete plan to prevent this and to reach the emissions-reduction target called for by law, the Transport Ministry is relying on 'technological flexibility,'" the group stated.

German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser pledged new security measures in light of the delays, saying that "there will soon be actual standards for operators of critical infrastructure."

"This also includes airports, and this will continue to lead to special security at airports," she added.

German Transport Minister Volker Wissing of the business-focused Free Democrats accused Last Generation of contributing to divisions in society by "ruining the well-earned and long-looked-forward-to annual vacations of others."

In remarks to the t-online news website, he described such actions as being criminal rather than protective of the climate.

Delays and cancelations

In Hamburg, 46 flights were delayed, canceled or diverted before operations resumed at 9:50 a.m. local time (0750 UTC/GMT) with airport authorities saying that more cancelations and delays were possible.

Police said two people each had glued themselves down at four different places and that one activist had been detained beforehand.

The protest in Hamburg came as summer vacations begin in the city-state.

The Düsseldorf airport said on Twitter that there were delays in operations "because unauthorized people had gained access to the airport premises" and urged passengers to check the status of their flights.

Police in the western city said seven people had glued themselves to the ground, with three others supporting their actions. All were taken into custody after solvent was used to detach the activists, they said.

The activists will face charges of disturbing the peace, coercive behavior and dangerous interference with aviation, according to the police.

The airport operator said operations resumed at around 7:30 a.m. local time with some restrictions.

 tj/sms (epd, dpa)

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