Climate activists of the group “Last Generation” have paralyzed flight operations at the capital’s airport BER for almost two hours. According to the Federal Police, two groups consisting of several people each gained access to the airport grounds on Thursday afternoon. Some of them would have stuck to the ground.
The group itself said that some activists had ridden bicycles across the site. The Berlin airport stopped operations on both runways. Around 6:15 p.m., the all-clear was then given; according to a BER spokesman, both runways were reopened.
Criticism from the Federal Minister of Transport
Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing sharply criticized the activists’ actions. The right to demonstrate is a fundamental right, but the actions are becoming “increasingly unscrupulous,” the FDP politician announced through a spokeswoman in the evening. “Society cannot accept such behavior.” The rule of law must “take decisive action” against it, he added.
The activists streamed the action live on Twitter. There, they could be seen cutting through a fence shortly after 4 p.m. and walking onto the airport grounds. Afterwards, they held banners into the camera and explained their motives. Activists could also be seen sticking to the ground and others riding bicycles. About ten minutes after the action began, blue lights could be seen in the livestream, and police officers could also be heard a little later.
Runways closed- activists stream the action live on Twitter.
According to the airport spokesman, the activists entered the BER site on both the north and south sides – accordingly, operations had to be stopped on both runways. Landings were diverted, and numerous planes were unable to take off on time. According to the Federal Police, several criminal offenses are likely to have been committed.
Brandenburg’s Interior Minister Michael Stübgen said that nothing could justify the action. “I stand by the fact that anyone who deliberately puts others in danger for their worldview is not an activist, but a criminal,” the CDU politician said. CSU state group leader Alexander Dobrindt spoke of a “new escalation.” “By invading the security area and occupying the tarmac, they are not only putting themselves but also hundreds of passengers in the air and on the ground in massive danger, and are causing considerable economic damage on the side. This is absolutely unacceptable and requires a tough response from the rule of law.”
Democracy doesn’t work in such a way
Katja Mast, First Parliamentary Secretary of the SPD in the Bundestag, emphasized, “Our democracy doesn’t work in such a way that I can enforce my goals by any means in the name of a good cause.” An airport blockade is not a legitimate means, she said. “Celebrating yourself for it on social media is detrimental to the cause as a whole.”
In recent weeks, the group’s activists had repeatedly blocked road traffic, stuck to paintings in museums and, this week, stuck to a conductor’s podium at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie concert hall – to draw attention to the consequences of climate change. They have already earned a lot of criticism for these actions. In a survey, 86 percent of respondents thought the protests were counterproductive.