Geneva airport closed after climate change activists in private jet protest

A protest at Geneva airport briefly halted flights (Reuters)
A protest at Geneva airport briefly halted flights (Reuters)

Geneva airport was briefly closed to flights on Tuesday after climate activists staged a protest against a private jet fair taking place in the Swiss city this week.

The protesters brandishing placards with demands including ‘ban private jets’ were confronted by airport staff as they staged a sit-in on the runway.

Sandy Bouchat, spokeswoman for the Geneva airport, said it was temporarily shut to both outbound and inbound flights for about an hour for security reasons. Seven flights were diverted and others were delayed.

Activists from several groups including Greenpeace, Scientist Rebellion, Stay Grounded and Extinction Rebellion disrupted the annual European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition, with some sitting down in front of private jets parked on the airport tarmac.

Geneva police said about 80 people were detained. Airport operators said they planned to file criminal complaints, adding that four people, including activists and private security staff, were injured in the protest.

The protest comes months after climate activists blocked private jets at Amsterdam Schiphol airport, arguing that the super-rich should be stopped from causing vastly more greenhouse gas emissions than the rest of the world’s population.

Mira Kapfinger of the environmental group Stay Grounded: “Whilst many can’t afford food and rent anymore, the super rich wreck our planet, unless we put an end to it.

“Apart from banning private jets, it’s also time to end air miles schemes which reward frequent flying, and instead tax frequent flyers. We need fair climate solutions.”

The Brussels-based environmental think tank Transport & Environment said emissions from private jets increased faster than those from other forms of aviation between 2005 and 2019. In a report published two years ago, it found that private jets generate between five and 14 times more pollution per passenger than regular passenger planes.