Private jet protests ‘becoming more frequent and destructive’: MedAire


Attacks on private jets by environmental protestors in Europe are becoming both more common and more damaging, warns security, medical and travel consultancy MedAire. More comprehensive risk assessment is a key way to diffuse the threat, it says.

Speaking after protestors from Futuro Vegetal (Vegetable Future) attacked an Embraer Phenom 300E with yellow and black paint at Ibiza Airport earlier this month, Jeremy Knochel, global security manager, Aviation & Maritime, MedAire spelled out the dangers to Corporate Jet Investor. “We have observed an increase in both the frequency and intensity of protests targeting the business aviation sector,” Knochel told us. “Activists have caused significant damage to private aircraft, resulting in substantial financial losses.”

But it’s not just physical damage to private jets. The protests, have also led to operational disruptions, including delays and closures of airports. One high profile example was the environmental protest at Geneva Airport in May. About 100 protestors stormed the EBACE static display at the airport, closing the runway and forcing jets to divert to Zurich and Lyon for extra fuel.

After the attack, there had been a four-fold increase in enquiries about security measures to protect both planes and principals, Bill Dolny, CEO, MedAire told CJI. “There’s been a big increase in people contacting us about how best to protect assets and individuals from the consequences of environmental protests,” he said.

Geneva was not an isolated incident, according to MedAire. “We anticipate that these protests may escalate in frequency, disruption, and damage to the aviation community,” said Knochel.

Mitigating the risk of such attacks begins with awareness, he told us. It’s crucial to proactively gather information about potential protest activity in the area that could disrupt operations. This includes creating contingency plans for potential disruptions and conducting pre-travel briefings to ensure all crew members and guests understand the appropriate responses to protestors.” In particularly high-risk situations, hiring private security may be advisable to provide an additional level of security for your aircraft. MedAire provides risk assessment and management services to its clients, “helping them navigate these complex issues safely and effectively”, it says.

But, isn’t it just a case of beefing up security at airports that cater for private jets? MedAire concedes security at small airports varies greatly worldwide. “In Europe and North America, most small airports have robust security measures in place but there can be gaps due to the less stringent regulations compared with commercial airports,” said Knochel. Elsewhere he describes security standards as being inconsistent, with some airports having excellent security and others needing improvement. “While many small airports strive to maintain high security standards, the recent incidents highlight the need for enhanced measures, particularly in the face of increasing activist protests,” he said.

MedAire recommends implementing a multi-layered approach. This includes improving  physical security measures, such as surveillance systems, access controls, and perimeter fencing. “Regular security audits and staff training are also crucial to ensure that security protocols are up-to-date and effectively implemented,” said Knochel. Airports can benefit from intelligence sharing and collaboration with local law enforcement agencies to respond swiftly to potential threats, he added.

Meanwhile, read more about European private jet airports under threat here.


Above: Fly (and park) safe: MedAire reports a big increase in enquiries about protecting principals and planes.

Top: About 100 protestors stormed the EBACE static display at Geneva in May forcing the airport to close.