Dutch border police on Saturday arrested hundreds of climate activists who clambered over fences and gates at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport and occupied an apron for private jets, which they said should be banned.
The protesters ran onto the tarmac at around 1200 GMT before sitting in front of private planes parked on the apron, including a Royal Canadian Air Force C-130 transporter.
It was not clear if any of the jets were set to depart but protesters said they saw at least one pilot leave a plane and walk back to a nearby hangar.
Organised by environmental groups Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion, activists also pushed dozens of bicycles on to the apron.
Shouting slogans like “Down with flying” and “Schiphol environmental polluter”, they cycled around the apron to the cheers of onlookers on the other side of the fence.
“This action today is about Schiphol airport needing to cut its emissions which means we need to fly less,” Greenpeace spokeswoman Faiza Oulahsen said.
“We are starting with those flights we absolutely don’t need like private jets and short flights,” she told AFP.
About three hours later, Dutch border police started arresting activists – some of whom were dragged to waiting buses after passively resisting arrest.
Border police were also seen tackling several activists off their bicycles as they tried to escape their pursuers.
“We take this very seriously,” Dutch border police spokesman Major Robert van Kapel told AFP.
“These people are facing charges relating to being in a place where they should not have been,” he said, adding that prosecutors will now formulate the exact charge.
The activists were taken to various border police offices around the airfield where they were being processed and identified, Van Kapel said.
Van Kapel said no commercial flights were affected by the protest.
Greenpeace later said police were “far too heavy-handed against the activists on bicycles” and that at least one person received a head injury.
The protest comes as the world gears up for the UN climate summit that starts in Egypt on Sunday, and which activists said should also focus on air travel.
“This is a subject they have to talk about,” said Tessel Hofstede, spokeswoman for Extinction Rebellion.
“Planes are some of the biggest polluters on the planet,” she told AFP.