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Flights resumed at Düsseldorf and Hamburg airports after climate protest

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DPA/The Local - [email protected]
Flights resumed at Düsseldorf and Hamburg airports after climate protest
Climate activists from Last Generation on the runway at Hamburg airport in July. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Bodo Marks | Bodo Marks

Normal service has resumed at Düsseldorf and Hamburg airports after activists from the Last Generation group stuck themselves to the airport runways on Thursday morning - but calls for action against the activist group are growing louder.

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After another morning of flight delays and disruption on the back of a Last Generation climate protest, politicians and senior police officers have called for tougher consequences and tighter security at airports.

"It is catastrophic for aviation security that the 'climate stickers' managed to get onto the runway of Düsseldorf Airport," police union chief Heiko Teggatz told the Rheinische Post, referring to the activists' tactic of glueing themselves to the tarmac.

The security features at airports - which normally consist of barbed wire fences that can be relatively easily traversed - are not appropriate for the current situation, he added.

Meanwhile, Hamburg mayor Peter Tschentscher said protests that break the law should be more consistently punished. 

"These are criminal offences that must be consistently sanctioned by the judiciary," the SPD politician said.

The demonstrations on Thursday were the latest in a string of instances where activists from Last Generation have managed to break into German airports and glue themselves to runways. 

In Hamburg, flights were grounded between 6am and 9:50am on Thursday morning, though the disruption continued throughout the day as airport staff tried to manage the four-hour backlogs. 

Over the course of the morning, 17 arrivals and 19 departures were cancelled, with 10 flights diverted to other airports. 

The protest action came on the first day of the school holidays in the northern city-state, when around 50,000 passengers and 330 flights were expected to flight out of the airport.

Climate activists broke into the airport through a security fence and glued themselves to the tarmac, the group announced.

According to an airport spokesperson, flights had been grounded since 6:10am due to a police operation at the scene. 

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"For safety reasons, air traffic had to be temporarily suspended," they said.

An ARD reporter at the scene revealed that, as of 9:25am, activists were still stuck to the tarmac in several parts of the airport and the security fence was still broken in four places.

"In Hamburg, the closure of the airport will certainly continue for some time," he said. "Until just now, the jackhammers were still rattling here."

The central security checkpoint and the check-in counters were temporarily closed in the morning, with passengers waiting in the overfilled terminals to see if flights would be resumed. Both security gates and check-in counters have now been reopened. 

Flight diversions in NRW

The action was coordinated with a similar protest by Last Generation activists at Düsseldorf Airport on Thursday morning.

A photographer for the DPA news agency reported that seven people had made it onto the runway in the morning.

Last Generation said they had cut through a fence to get onto the runways, blocking the movement of aircraft in the terminal throughout the morning. 

READ ALSO: German prosecutors admit to tapping climate activists' phones

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Flight operations were temporarily severely restricted, the photographer said. A large number of emergency workers were on the scene.

At around 10am, the climate group posted a video showing police cars and what appeared to be two activists still stuck to the runway. 

"The disruptions at Hamburg and Düsseldorf airports continue," they wrote.  

Due to the security operation, landings in Düsseldorf had to be diverted to Cologne/Bonn airport. However, services were partially resumed on the north runway of the airport. 

Controversial tactics

Writing on Twitter, the climate group said the two airport protests were to fight back against "the lack of a government plan" and "breaking the law" on the climate crisis.

"A worsening of the climatic situation will lead to large parts of the world becoming uninhabitable - even within this century," they wrote.

Last Generation have hit the headlines in recent months for their disruptive protest tactics, including gluing themselves to motorways and runways.

READ ALSO: German police carry out nationwide raids against climate activists

In March, the group were slammed for throwing mashed potato at a Monet painting in an art gallery in Potsdam. However, the painting was not damaged.  

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