Extinction Rebellion climate activists blocked access to Farnborough Airport on Sunday, June 2 to protest against increasing the use of private jets and called on the government to ban them. The blockade was part of a global week of action against private aviation under the banner ‘Make Them Pay’, with actions taking place across the world. It follows Europe’s largest private jet convention EBACE in Geneva.

Protesters barricaded the airport’s gulfstream gate with the iconic XR pink boat with ‘LOVE IN ACTION’ painted on the side. Ively gate had four protesters locked on to oil drums, and an activist was mounted on a tripod blockading the departure gate. At all three main gates, protesters released colourful smoke flares, chanting slogans and engaging with members of the public, accompanied by the XR Rebel Rhythms band of drummers. 

Dr Jessica Upton, 54, from Oxford, said: “Private airports are an abomination, expanding Farnborough would be putting the indulgent wants of the rich minority over the needs of the majority.

“Local people need cleaner air and less noise pollution, and the world’s population urgently needs rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to survive.

“Private airports disproportionately contribute to climate breakdown and closing them would boost our chances of sticking to the Paris Climate Accords, the supposedly legally binding international treaty agreed to and signed by our government.“ Activists were supported by scores of demonstrators holding banners reading FLYING TO EXTINCTION’, ‘PRIVATE FLIGHTS = PUBLIC DEATHS’, ‘STOP PRIVATE FLIGHTS’, ‘PRIVATE FLIGHTS COST THE EARTH’ and ‘TAX FREQUENT FLYERS’.

Protesters with the iconic XR pink boat
Protesters with the iconic XR pink boat (Extinction Rebelllion)

Extinction Rebellion said: “Farnborough Airport is being targeted in an escalating campaign because it is the UK’s largest private jet airport. Last year 33,120 private flights landed and took off from its runways, carrying an average of  2.5 passengers per flight, making them up to 40 times more carbon intensive than regular flights.

“Currently, 40% of flights to and from the airport are empty and the airport is now seeking planning permission to increase the number of planes taking off or landing from a maximum of 50,000 a year to up to 70,000 a year.

“Farnborough Airport claims to be a centre for business aviation yet around 50% of its flights headed to the Mediterranean during summer months, rather than business locations, with around 25% heading to Alpine destinations during the winter months. Last year a service was launched specifically to shuttle dogs and their owners to Dubai and back.”

Extinction Rebellion were joined by people from far and wide
Extinction Rebellion were joined by people from far and wide (Extinction Rebellion)

Extinction Rebellion has joined forces with local residents, Quakers, and campaign organisations such as Farnborough Noise Group, Blackwater Valley Friends of the Earth, and Bristol Aviation Action Network to voice their opposition to the airport’s expansion plans.

Daniela Voit, 37, from Surbiton, added: “The rich that are flying from Farnborough private jet airport seem to think they are exempt from taking responsibility for what they are doing to our only home. Banning private jets is one of the first things we need to do to stop further temperature rises.”

For more information, visit https://extinctionrebellion.uk/