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Munich airport disrupted by climate protesters

May 18, 2024

Several climate activists were arrested after breaching the grounds of Munich airport and gluing themselves to the tarmac. Interior Minister Nancy Faeser called for the culprits to be "rigorously prosecuted."

Klimaaktivisten legen Münchner Flughafen lahm
Climate activists glued themselves to a taxiway bringing the airport to a standstillImage: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/dpa/picture alliance

Police were deployed to the Munich airport on Saturday morning after climate activists from the Last Generation movementdisrupted the hub in protest of climate policy.

An airport spokesperson said the flight hub had closed "for security reasons" because climate activists had stuck themselves to the taxiways.

Initially, all the flights either had to be canceled or diverted to other airports.

Later, an airport representative said one of the two runways was open but there would be delays.

Passengers who experienced disruption would be rebooked on other flights, airport spokesperson Robert Wilhelm told dpa news agency. 

In a series of posts on the social media platform X, the climate activists posted pictures of members on what appears to be a runway or tarmac with protest signs.

"A total of six people are sitting in two groups on different locations of the Munich airport," the post reads.

Police eventually said eight of the activists were arrested.

Interior minister: 'Criminal actions'

German politicians reacted with outrage to the disruption in Munich.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, of Chancellor Olaf Scholz's center-left Social Democrats (SPD), described the incidents on messaging platform X, formerly Twitter, as criminal actions endangering air traffic.

She said such actions also did damage to attempts to protect the climate, as many people would react with incomprehension and rage.

"Good that the federal police took quick action. The culprits must be rigorously prosecuted and protective measures at the airport reviewed," she wrote.

Transport Minister Volker Wissing, from the neoliberal coalition partners the Free Democrats (FDP), called for heavier penalties for those endangering aviation safety. He also decried the protest as illegitimate.

"It is for good reason that airports have security areas: When air traffic does not operate in security, people are endangered, there is a risk of great economic damage and thousands of travelers are stuck," he said in a statement.

Protests come during vacation days

The demonstration by the climate activists took place during one of the busiest travel periods
for the airport in southern Germany.

The airport expected to handle at least 350,000 passengers from Friday to Sunday, the first weekend of the spring holiday period. 

According to their own statement, the Last Generation activists intended to block at least one of the two runways. 

The objective behind the protests was to disrupt the Whitsun holidays which is a peak travel time in Germany.

One of the signs held up by protesters read, "Problem is the government, not our holiday."

The climate activists oppose the subsidies provided to the airline industry by the government in the form of waivers for kerosene fuel and VAT.

The group has held similar protests at other airports across Germany.

Climate activists disrupt flights at German airports

mfi/dj (Reuters, dpa)