Climate activists protest in Schiphol at KLM check-in counters; 3 arrests

About 20 Extinction Rebellion activists are demonstrating at KLM’s counters in a departure hall at Schiphol Airport. The Koninklijke Marechaussee, the Dutch military branch that secures the airport, said it was monitoring the situation. Extinction Rebellion wants KLM to take responsibility for the health and climate damage it caused by blocking Schiphol’s shrinking.

“The Marechaussee has just arrested three demonstrators at Schiphol. One person vehemently resisted the arrest,” the Marechaussee said on Twitter. “The demonstration of about 20-30 people was inside the departure halls and has now moved outside.”

The reason for the demonstration is the result of a court case that KLM and other airlines filed against the State. They wanted to scrap the plan to shrink the airport from 500,000 to 460,000 flight movements per year. The court ruled in the airlines’ favor, issuing an injunction that stopped the government from shrinking the airport in the coming season because it did not follow the proper EU procedure.

According to Extinction Rebellion, “the health of the many Dutch people living in the area is threatened” by the many flights into and out of Schiphol Airport. KLM also refuses to take responsibility and reduce the number of flights at its own initiative, Pedro Nooijen of the activist movement said. “According to climate science, it is necessary to quickly fly less. This is the only solution that really makes a difference in protecting the health of local residents and the climate.”

The government planned to cut the number of flight movements at Schiphol from 500,000 to 460,000 this upcoming season, which runs from November 2023 to October 2024, and then to 440,000 in the next season. The court ruling didn’t ban the shrink to 440,000 in 2024/25 because the government is following the EU procedure to do so.

In response to the ruling, SchipholWatch, a foundation dedicated to preventing the further growth of aviation in the Netherlands, asked the Human Environment & Transport Inspectorate (ILT) to take action against Schiphol and the airlines operating there. The foundation wants the ILT to ensure that the sector adheres to the 2008 Airport Traffic Decree, which states that up to 400,000 flight movements can happen yearly at Schiphol.

SchipholWatch submitted a similar enforcement request in 2019. But the court rejected it partly because it assumed that the temporary allowance of more flights would end at the end of that year when a new Airport Traffic Decree came into force. But that new decree still hasn’t been made, partly because Schiphol is still waiting for an environmental permit.

Now that the court in Haarlem banned the government’s plan to reduce flight movements next year, SchipholWatch again asked the ILT to enforce it. “Now that Minister Harbers first has to go through a lengthy procedure to reduce the number of flight movements, citizens are again denied legal certainly for an indefinite period.”

Reporting by ANP and NL Times

ImageExtinction Rebellion activists protesting at the KLM counters in Schiphol Airport's departure hall, 10 April 2023 Extinction Rebellion activists protesting at the KLM counters in Schiphol Airport's departure hall, 10 April 2023 – Credit: Cornelius, @Corneli56389252 / Twitter – License: All Rights Reserved

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