02 Nov 2020, 14:09
Sören Amelang

Climate activists protest against infamously belated opening of new Berlin Airport BER

Zeit Online / Deutsche Welle

The much-delayed opening of Berlin's new airport BER last weekend has been accompanied by climate activists' protests. According to a Zeit Online report, various groups displayed posters with messages such as "Flying only for birds" and "Stop planes instead of destroying the climate". "Our aim is to paralyse the airport and massively disrupt the opening," an activist spokesperson said, adding that opening a giant new airport during a climate crisis is unacceptable. Extinction Rebellion activists tried to prevent a plane from taking off during the protests, by gluing themselves to the door, the gangway, and the airfield. But the plane took off after police intervened. Several dozen members from another group dressed as penguins blocked stairs. Police brought charges against four people who climbed the roof of the airport building.

The activists said a total of around 250 people were involved in the actions. The group "Stay on the ground" called for a significant reduction in overall air traffic, a ban on domestic flights and the closure of regional airports. The first two planes to land during the opening ceremony had taken off for two domestic shorft-distance flights, one from Munich and another one from Berlin's Tegel Airport, which is about 30 kilometres away and due to close once BER has entered into full operation. Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr told a press conference the current industry crisis caused by the pandemic would last a long time. "We must be realistic. It will take until the middle of the decade at the earliest until we reach the level of 2019 again," Spohr said, according to a Deutsche Welle report.

The new "Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt" airport - known by its BER code - exceeded the original budget three times. Its opening was postponed for nearly ten years, causing a national debate in Germany about the airport being an embarrassment to its engineering and management skills.

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