Airport blockade in Munich: what politicians are now demanding – Munich

After climate activists of the so-called “last generation” managed to disrupt operations at Munich Airport on Saturday, politicians from all parties have called for consequences – albeit very different ones and in different tones. They only agreed on the general criticism of the campaign, which meant that at the beginning of the Whitsun holidays in Bavaria, several thousand travelers were only able to start their vacation with some significant delays.

Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) demanded on the media platform X (formerly Twitter): “The perpetrators must be consistently prosecuted and the protective measures at the airport must be checked.” On the same channel, CSU General Secretary Martin Huber called for “the full rigor of the rule of law against these climate chaotic people.” He was in line with his party colleague Joachim Herrmann, the Bavarian Interior Minister, who had spoken of an “absolutely mindless action by climate chaotics”. Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) called for the aviation security law to be tightened in such cases and for actions like those on Saturday to be punished as a criminal offense with a prison sentence.

Green politicians such as Federal Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir or Munich’s Second Mayor Dominik Krause see politicians as having the responsibility to ensure change. “What’s the point of spoiling people’s start to their vacation?” Özdemir asked the activists rhetorically on X: “Hold us politicians accountable.”

Krause also argued that the activists “hit the completely wrong people,” namely families with schoolchildren who were on their way to the holidays. From his own vacation, he explained to the SZ: “I don’t think it makes sense to place the responsibility for climate protection on the individual. It is primarily the job of politicians to set better framework conditions so that people can behave in a climate-friendly manner.”

In order to emphasize their demands for the federal government to be more committed to climate protection, the “Last Generation” wanted to paralyze operations at Munich Airport, as they announced in a media release. Eight people tried to enter the airport premises and block runways early on Saturday morning.

Early on Saturday morning, activists blocked the northern runway at Munich Airport. (Photo: Leonhard Simon)

Two were stopped before they could do so; six people managed to stick themselves to the floor. Apparently with a new, extremely hard adhesive, because according to a police spokesman, the activists were not removed from the ground as usual, but had to be “flexed out” using a jackhammer. After they were separated from the asphalt, they were also temporarily arrested. The personal details of two other people were identified because they were suspected of having helped the intruders.

The eight people arrested, five men and three women between the ages of 20 and 43, were released later on Saturday, the last around midnight, after an investigating judge found no reason for their detention. The activists expect to be charged with dangerous interference with air traffic. When members of the “Last Generation” entered the airport premises in December 2022 and stuck themselves, they were also reported for damage to property and trespassing. Bavaria’s Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann (CSU) had already called for a review of the security measures back then.

Of course, in practice it would be almost impossible to monitor the more than 40 kilometer long fence that surrounds the airport grounds around the clock. According to a spokesman for the airport operator, the alarm worked well after the first cuts in the fence wire: “The security forces set off immediately and were on site after a few minutes.” Two activists were even arrested right at the fence.

Since the members of the “Last Generation” began their action before sunrise around five o’clock and thus before the start of regular flight operations, the effects were not so serious, said the spokesman. Although both runways were immediately closed as a precaution, the northern one was opened again after just under two hours, and then the southern one twenty minutes later, at 7:20 a.m.

During this time, 14 arriving aircraft were diverted to other airports. Because of the closure and its consequences, around 60 of 1,000 planned starts had to be canceled; many planes took off with delays. The airport spokesman said these lasted into the evening. But ultimately all passengers were able to be rebooked, some of those affected from domestic German flights also onto rail trains. A total of almost 140,000 travelers were processed on Saturday. Operations went back to normal on Sunday.

Interior Minister Faeser had complained: “Such criminal actions (…) damage climate protection because they only cause incomprehension and anger.” However, those directly affected at the airport did not notice much of this. Airport operators and federal police confirmed that there were “no unpleasant scenes” in the terminals, no aggressiveness or loud expressions of displeasure. Passengers even expressed fundamental understanding for the activists’ concerns, even if they did not approve of their methods of protest.

“The demand for more climate protection is of course justified, we are experiencing record temperatures and extreme weather events worldwide due to global warming,” says Munich Mayor Krause. In order to prevent the activists’ protest actions, he sees it as the federal government’s turn – in the literal sense. If he had his way, financial resources and taxes would have to be redirected to rail transport. “It’s sometimes cheaper to get from Munich to Berlin by plane than by train,” he states: “Behaving in a climate-friendly manner shouldn’t be more expensive than behaving in a way that is harmful to the climate.”

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