Climate activists storm Amsterdam airport and block private jets | Netherlands

Dutch border police arrested hundreds of climate activists who stormed Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport and sat in front of the wheels of aircraft to prevent them from leaving.

More than 100 protesters, wearing white suits, entered an area where private jets are kept on Saturday as part of a day of demonstrations in and around the airport organised by environmental groups.

Dewi Zloch, the Netherlands campaign leader for Greenpeace, one of the groups involved, said: “We want fewer flights, more trains and a ban on unnecessary short-haul flights and private jets.”

Greenpeace says Schiphol is the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the Netherlands, emitting 12bn kilograms annually.

Extinction Rebellion was also involved in the action. Hundreds of other demonstrators in and around the airport’s main hall carried signs saying “Restrict aviation” and “More trains”.

About three hours after the protest began, border police started arresting activists, some of whom were dragged to waiting buses after passively resisting arrest, AFP reported.

“We take this very seriously,” Dutch border police spokesperson Major Robert van Kapel said.

“These people are facing charges relating to being in a place where they should not have been,” he said, adding that prosecutors will now formulate the exact charge.

The activists were taken to various border police offices around the airfield where they were being processed and identified, Van Kapel said.

Van Kapel said no commercial flights were affected by the protest.

There were also reports of border police tackling several activists on bicycles as they tried to escape.

Greenpeace said police were “far too heavy-handed against the activists on bicycles” and that at least one person received a head injury.

Responding to the protest, Schiphol said it aimed to become an emissions-free airport by 2030 and it supported targets for the aviation industry to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

On Friday, in response to an open letter from Greenpeace, Schiphol’s new CEO, Ruud Sondag, conceded that change needed to happen faster.

The Dutch government announced plans in June to cap annual passenger numbers at the airport at 440,000, about 11% below 2019 levels, citing air pollution and climate concerns.

The transport minister, Mark Harbers, told parliament last month that his office could not control growing private jet traffic, and the government was considering whether to include the issue in its climate policy.

More than 120 world leaders are due to attend this year’s UN climate talks at the Red Sea coastal resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, which start on Sunday.

Extinction Rebellion has been warning of the environmental impact of air travel for many years and in October 2019 a protester climbed on to a British Airways plane at London City airport and was seen lying on top of it. Other activists staged a sit-in at the airport entrance during the third day of protests in London at that time.