Activists call for airport shrinkage with speeches, music performances

A few hundred people gathered at Schiphol Airport on Saturday to protest nuisance and pollution from air traffic. Demonstrations are also taking place at regional airports across the country. At 12:05 p.m., there was a “quiet moment” of 10 minutes.

A stage was set up outside Schiphol Plaza. There were also banners and people are walking with protest signs with texts such as “Schiphol, where is your climate plan?”, “Schiphol is a major polluter,” “Royal Air Pollution Company” and “Flights are no longer possible.” A group of several dozen cyclists –– who left early Saturday morning from Rotterdam and Lelystad –– were welcomed at Schiphol during the morning to loud applause.

During the demonstrations, which also took place at the airports of Eindhoven, Rotterdam, Lelystad, Eelde and Maastricht, there were speeches and music performances. Some demonstrators engaged in conversation with passengers who passed by. A foreign traveler asked what was going on, while the Marechaussee present kept an eye on the demonstration from a distance.

The demonstrators, including local residents and supporters of organizations such as Greenpeace, Milieudefensie, Urgenda and Extinction Rebellion, believe that the aviation sector should shrink significantly. “Without shrinking aviation, KLM and Schiphol will not seriously participate in stopping dangerous climate change,” said Bram van Liere of Milieudefensie. According to Van Liere, a decrease is necessary “so that we can pass on a green world to our children and live and sleep in the Netherlands in a decent way.”

There needs to be a “decrease in an absurd number of foreign transfer passengers, decrease of night flights, decrease of all those superfluous business trips, decrease of the squeeze of staff, decrease of frequent flyers on weekend city trips, decrease of noise pollution, decrease of noise pollution…[and] climate damage,” Van Liere said.

Far fewer flights ran during the coronavirus pandemic, but now that air traffic is picking up again, according to the activists, the time has come to intervene. In addition to shrinking Schiphol, they also want the smaller airports in Rotterdam and Maastricht to close. A decision on the future of Maastricht Aachen Airport will be made next month in the Provincial Council of Limburg. Closure is one of the possible scenarios.

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