Protestors breach EBACE static
Around 100 climate protestors managed to reach the aircraft static display at EBACE on Tuesday.
Some of the activists travelled over from the UK to take part. Several attached themselves to aircraft before being removed by the police. At least 102 protestors were arrested, according to Greenpeace.
They caused major disruptions with Geneva airport closing the runway. Aircraft were forced to divert to Zurich and Lyon before being refuelled. Burning many extra litres of fuel. The static display was closed for a short period.
“This is a completely unacceptable form of protest,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen and EBAA chairman Juergen Wiese in a statement. “We condemn the action, and the threat it has posed to the safety and security of exhibiting companies and EBACE attendees, and others at Geneva Airport.”
The industry is open to “constructive dialogue about the industry’s sustainability leadership”, they said. “And we regret the protestors’ unfortunate decision to disregard an opportunity for that dialogue to take place.”
In the afternoon there was a planned demonstration with between 150 and 200 protestors outside Palexpo. The demonstration included representatives from environmental pressure groups Transport & Environment, Extinction Rebellion and actif-trafiC.
Youri Bernet, an activist representing actif-trafiC told CJI protestors were there to demonstrate against the symbolism of private aviation. “How can you ask someone to reduce their emissions and fly less when there are private aircraft flying above them? Private jets are not something that should exist in this type of climate crisis.” he told CJI. “This is the second biggest event for private aviation in the world and Geneva is one of the most important airports in Europe for private aviation. This is not acceptable in the climate crisis we face.”
Robert Baltus, chief operations officer, EBAA explained that his organisation is constantly talking to environmental groups – such as the Brussels-based Transport & Environment pressure group. “We agree on the need to decarbonise aviation but we have a different timetable and approach [to the protestors],” he told CJI.
“While we agree to disagree on the timetable, we tell everyone what we are doing,” said Balthus. “It would be really good to look behind the one liner [slogans] and see what we are truly doing and to decarbonise aviation.”
Both EBAA and NBAA point out that today’s protests ignore business aviation’s success in cutting its carbon emissions by 40% over the past 40 years, while working towards achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
“We think sustainability is a licence to survive,” Giovanni Russo, chief operating officer of Geneva Airport told the keynote session of EBACE 2023 in the morning. “And, it’s even more applicable in aviation.” That licence was illegally revoked briefly today.