A hundred climate activists supporting Greenpeace, Stay Grounded, Extinction Rebellion, Scientist Rebellion and other climate movement groups from 17 countries disrupted Europe’s biggest private jet sales fair, the annual European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva on 23 May, demanding a ban on private jets.
Activists blocked exhibited jets at the business event by Geneva airport, chaining themselves to aircraft gangways and the exhibition entrance in order to keep prospective buyers from entering. The protestors also stuck giant tobacco-style health warning labels on the jets marking them as toxic objects and warning that “private jets burn our future”, “kill our planet” and “fuel inequality”, while messages about the “hypocrisy of promoting private jets amidst rising social inequality” were announced via loudspeakers.
For over 20 years, Europe’s super-rich have popped champagne behind closed doors at EBACE while shopping for the latest toxic private jets.Klara Maria Schenk, transport campaigner for Greenpeace’s Mobility for All campaign
EBACE is Europe’s largest – and one of the world’s biggest – annual gatherings of business aviation industry stakeholders such as sellers, buyers and producers of private jets, hosted by the European and American private jet industry groups EBAA and NBAA. Roughly half of the more than 10.000 visitors own or operate an aircraft.
Sales of private jets are expected to reach their highest ever level this year, placing an increasing burden on the planet. According to a recent report, the global fleet of private jets has more than doubled in the last two decades, while CO2 emissions from private jet traffic in Europe have reached record levels in recent years, according to a study commissioned by Greenpeace CEE.
The total value of private aircraft sold in the past decade is estimated by the industry to be approximately US$241 billion, the celebrities and wealthy people frequently resorting to private flights to save a few hours. At the same time, Greenpeace quoted Boeing’s CEO as saying 80% of the world’s population have never flown, but, the organisation highlighted, they still “bear the brunt of the climate crisis”.
“Whilst many can’t afford food and rent anymore, the super rich wreck our planet, unless we put an end to it”, said Mira Kapfinger, a campaigner from Stay Grounded. “Apart from banning private jets, it’s also time to end air miles schemes which reward frequent flying, and instead tax frequent flyers.”
The action in Geneva follows a series of protests by climate activists against private jets over the past few months. In November 2022, members of Extinction Rebellion blocked private jets at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, in December, activists form the environmental group Letze Generation (Last Generation), glued themselves to the runways at Berlin and Munich airports to protest against aviation subsidies at the detriment of cheaper public transport, while in February, Extinction Rebellion and Scientists Rebellion blocked the entire private jet terminal at Brussels Airport.