Flights disrupted as climate activists blockade Berlin Airport runway

BER Airport temporarily closed both its runways Thursday afternoon as climate protestors breached secured areas.

Flights at BER airport
Aircraft of regional Turkish airline Anadolujet and British low-cost airline Easyjet are seen through a window as they are parked on the tarmac of Berlin Brandenburg Airport Willy Brandt (BER) in Schoenefeld, southeast of the German capital on July 9, 2022. (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP)

Several flights scheduled to either take off or land at the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport starting at around 16:00 Thursday afternoon were disrupted after “Letzte Generation” or “Last Generation” activists gained access to the airport runway and began livestreaming their demonstration. 

The video shows activists cutting through a fence to access the runway, where they held up placards demanding a nationwide €9 “climate ticket” for public transport and a speed limit on Germany’s famous Autobahn. The controversial protest group has became widely known after throwing mashed potatoes a Claude Monet painting in Potsdam’s Barberini Museum back in October.

READ ALSO: WATCH: German climate activists pour mashed potatoes on €111 million Monet work

After airport staff became aware of the breach, BER Airport temporarily shut down and police arrived on the scene a short time later.

The protest sent flights to and from Berlin’s only airport into turmoil, with forced to circle in the air until getting clearance to land. 

Local reader Neil Tarrant was on a plane from Copenhagen to Berlin at the time.

“Around halfway through the flight, the plane turned around and we went back to Copenhagen. The captain explained we didn’t have enough fuel to circle over BER while waiting to see what would happen,” Tarrant tells The Local. “It’s been a long day. But my fellow passengers seem pretty positive, even joking about it. This might turn into a three-hour delay or so though.”

Officials aren’t so relaxed.

Brandenburg’s Interior Minister Michael Stübgen told Der Tagesspiegel: “It’s a serious criminal offence that, in the worst case, also endangers human life,” he told the newspaper. “Anyone who intentionally puts others in danger for their worldview is not an activist, but a criminal.”

“Democratic norms and institutions have no meaning for this organization,” Berlin police union Benjamin Jendro said, adding that imprisonment for the activists was on the table.

At the time of writing, flights were once again able to land and take off from BER. However, authorites at the airport warned of continued delays. 

“Flight operations have resumed on both runways,” they wrote in a passenger update on the BER website. “However, there are still delays. We ask for your patience.”

Live updates to flight schedules can be found on the airport website. 

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‘Clear indication of climate change’: Germany logs warmest year on record

Looking at data from 2,000 measuring systems around Germany, the German Weather Service (DWD) said that 2022 marked the warmest year on record through November.

'Clear indication of climate change': Germany logs warmest year on record

“Never since 1881 has the period from January to November in Germany been so warm as in 2022,” said DWD spokesman Uwe Kirsche in a statement on Wednesday.

The average temperature for the first eleven months of 2022 was 11.3C, according to the weather service in Offenbach. The previous high was set in 2020, at 11.1C for this period. 

The temperature average for autumn alone was 10.8 degrees – an entire 2C degrees higher than it was between 1961 to 1990, which is used by meteorologists around the globe as a point of reference. 

Clear indication of climate change

The period from January to October was already the warmest on record, with an average temperature of 11.8C. For meteorologists, autumn ends with November, whereas in calendar terms, it lasts until December 21st. 

It is “a clear indication of climate change;” that the warmest October months of the last 140 years all fall in this millennium, said DWD.

READ ALSO: ‘A glimpse into our climate future’: Germany logs warmest October on record

Autumn 2022 could have easily been mistaken for summer in some regions of Germany, it said. The mercury reached the highest in Kleve on the Lower Rhine on September 5th, where temperatures soared to a sizzling 32.3C.

weather Germany september

Beach goers in Westerland, Schleswig-Holstein on September 25th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Molter

Rainy regions

The mild weather extended into November, before temperatures took a dramatic dip in many parts of the country. 

In the Oberharz am Brocken, the mercury dropped all the way to -11.6C on November 20th, the nationwide low for this autumn.

READ ALSO: Germany to see first snowfall after mild November

But despite the early warm spells, autumn was also “slightly wetter than average,” according to DWD. An average of around 205 liters of precipitation per squar metre fell across Germany.

That was about twelve percent more than in the reference period from 1961 to 1990. Compared to 1991 to 2020, the increase was about eight percent.

The Black Forest and the Alps received the most rainfall. Utzenfeld in the southern Black Forest had the highest daily precipitation in Germany with 86 litres per square meter on October 14th. In contrast, it remained very dry in the northeast. 

However, there were also a fair few bright, sunny days for people to enjoy. According to DWD, the sun shone for a good 370 hours this autumn – almost 20 percent more than in the period from 1961 to 1990 and 15 percent more than in the period from 1991 to 2020.

The North German Lowlands saw the most sun, with residents there getting a solid 400 hours of sunshine over autumn. 

Temperatures to drop this week

Just in time for the start of the meteorological winter on December 1st, temperatures will drop significantly into the low negatives in many parts of the country.

On the weekend, there is a risk of permafrost in some regions of eastern Germany. The nights will also become increasingly frosty, with snow expected in many regions by the end of the week.

Roads are expected to turn icy, but with no major snowstorms, said DWD.

READ ALSO: Will Germany see more snow this winter?