Business aviation operations faced disruptive protests from environmental activists in several locations across Europe this week, with facilities in the UK, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands being targeted. Groups such as Extinction Rebellion, Scientist Rebellion and Last Generation attacked private terminals and FBOs in a coordinated protest that coincided with the start of the COP27 climate conference in Egypt. The groups are calling for a total ban on private jets and high taxes for frequent flyers.
In the UK, protesters tried to block the entrances to Farnborough Airport and Harrods Aviation FBO at London Luton Airport on Thursday. Local police confirmed they had responded to calls about the protest.
said Harrods Aviation chief executive Paul Norton AIN The company declined to comment on the protests. Farnborough Airport also declined to comment. In 2018, the privately owned facility was the first business aviation airport in the world to be certified as carbon neutral by Airports Council International.
Similar protests also took place at Milan Linate Airport this week, and on November 5 some 500 Dutch Greenpeace members rode bicycles into the business aviation enclave at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and blocked the movement of planes. The European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) condemned the protest at Schiphol, reporting via a LinkedIn post that the demonstration resulted in the cancellation of flights and that a medical flight had to be diverted.
“Our sector flies up to 70 medical flights a day, which saves lives if left unperturbed,” the group said. At least one aircraft was damaged during the protest, according to an EBAA member operator.
In Germany, authorities have threatened protesters from the Lost Generation group with 30 days of “preventive detention” in jail for planning disruptions at airports. In September, protesters spray-painted the Signature Flight Support FBO at Paris Le Bourget Airport.
The EBAA has resisted growing pressure to impose a ban on private planes across the European Union. Momentum for the move has been building since August, when France’s transport minister, Clément Beaune, called for stricter regulation of the industry. President Emmanuel Macron and the country’s Prime Minister, Élisabeth Borne, then called for “concrete proposals” for measures that could include flight bans and punitive taxes.
Athar Husayn Khan, Secretary General of EBAA, has acknowledged that business aviation has become something of a lightning rod for claims from environmental groups that are increasingly hostile to the industry. “This review has served to cloud … an industry that has been working hard to move in the right direction of sustainability for nearly two decades,” he commented in a blog published Oct. 20.
In a previous September 7 statement, the EBAA argued that these steps would discourage the airline industry from making flights more sustainable. The group said business aviation is an early adopter of technologies such as sustainable aviation fuels.
On October 7, the International Business Aviation Council and EBAA jointly welcomed the acceptance of the commitment by ICAO member states to achieve net-zero carbon emissions from aviation by 2050. The EBAA made this commitment public in 2009.