Thousands of summer holidays could be disrupted as Just Stop Oil activists plot airport protests

Airports could face delays this summer
Airports could face delays this summer -Credit:Getty Images

Thousands of summer holidays could be disrupted as Just Stop Oil activists plan a series of protests at airports across the UK and Europe.

The environmental group is planning to disrupt operations at various airports starting from mid-June, potentially impacting the getaway plans of countless travellers.

Protesters are set to halt flights by invading terminal buildings, glueing themselves to runways, and scaling aircraft in popular destinations such as Spain, Greece, and Turkey. The anticipated action could see delays for passengers, while those lucky enough to take off could be forced to wait hours on the runway on the other side.

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However, MPs and travel experts have accused the group of "shooting itself in the foot" by causing misery and risking lives, the Mirror reports. An undercover reporter for the newspaper learned of the plot at a meeting attended by some 50 activists. Just Stop Oil's so-called poster girl, Phoebe Plummer, was greeted by roars as she announced "disruption on a scale that has never been seen before".

She added: "The most exciting part of this plan is that [it's] going to be part of an international effort. Flights operate on such a tight schedule to control air traffic that with action being caused in cities all around the world we're talking about radical, unignorable disruption."

Plummer has been arrested for a string of disturbances that include throwing soup at a Vincent van Gogh painting in the National Gallery. The pink-haired 22-year-old spent time in prison last year and was re-arrested a fortnight ago for breaking her bail conditions by posting a letter through the door of Labour MP Emily Thornberry.

Plummer's speech continued: "It's time to wake up and get real no summer holiday is more important than food security, housing and the lives of your loved ones. Flying is also a symbol of the gross wealth inequality that's plaguing our society and if we want to create change we need to adopt a more radical demand."

Just Stop Oil will team up with Europe-based eco mob the A22 Network to stage protests at major international airports. Last year, protesters from member group Last Generation spray-painted a private jet orange and glued themselves to runways in Germany. It later emerged the anti-fossil fuel group Network netted over £400,000 from billionaire oil heiress Aileen Getty.

Clive Wratten, of the Business Travel Association, said of the latest plot: "These planned protests are a blunt instrument that will alienate the people who can bring the change Just Stop Oil wants. The activists should work with British businesses to create meaningful solutions to our climate crisis."

"They should join airlines and their supply industry in bringing forward sustainable fuels and best practices, and we urge protesters to reconsider chaos bringing progress to a standstill."

Gary Johnson, Tory MP for Dartford, branded the strategy "dangerous" and "selfish", adding: "The actions of Just Stop Oil are counterproductive and put people off their cause. Most people want to see the environment protected but militant, highly disruptive protests just anger those who are often just trying to enjoy a family holiday."

Some 51pc of Brits plan to travel abroad this summer and three in five have already booked, according to Post Office Travel Money. Some 940,000 flights left the UK in 2023 and aviation contributes over £22billion to the economy, Government figures show. The planned action comes after passengers were told to expect chaos in the coming months due to staff shortages in air traffic departments.

Just Stop Oil was founded in 2022 to try to halt all new oil, gas and coal licences in the UK. Its previous protests include halting traffic on busy roads, targeting an Ashes Test match at Lords and storming on stage during a performance of Les Miserables in the West End.

Justifying the group's actions, a Just Stop Oil spokesman said: "In normal circumstances, the sort of activities you've outlined would be unacceptable. However, what is more unacceptable is the last 10 straight months of record-breaking temperatures, governments continue to allow more oil and gas drilling. The situation is an emergency and we have to start acting like it."

Home Secretary James Cleverly criticised Just Stop Oil's "unacceptable guerrilla tactics", adding: "Selfish, disruptive protesters who wreak havoc in people's everyday lives must be stopped. We have given the police more powers to tackle criminals posing as protesters and are backing officers with the tools they need to prevent serious disruption and disorder. More than 600 protesters were arrested during Just Stop Oil's latest campaign."