German protestors sprayed a Citation jet with paint at Sylt Airport.
Protestors sprayed a Citation jet with paint at Sylt Airport in Germany. (Photo: Letze Generation)

German Protesters Vandalize Citation CJ1+ With Paint

The latest of a spate of attacks by European environmental activists.

Eco-protesters recently broke onto the ramp at Sylt Airport in northern Germany and covered a Cessna Citation CJ1+ almost entirely with orange paint—and then glued themselves to the business jet and the tarmac. Local police confirmed that five people aged between 21 and 60 were arrested and that a criminal investigation is underway.

Photos showing the Citation after it was sprayed with paint make it impossible to confirm the registration and ownership of the aircraft, which had an Austrian flag decal on its tail. The paint covered most of the wings and fuselage and also got into the jet’s turbofan engines. The police statement did not include any details about the aircraft's ownership.

In its lengthy public statement, the group called Letze Generation (Last Generation) admitted that it used bolt cutters to break through the airport fence in two places before running toward a group of business jets parked on the apron. The protesters appear to have selected the Citation somewhat randomly for their protest. They unfurled banners on the wing with German slogans that translate to “your luxury = our drought” and “your luxury = crop failures.”

The group accused German Chancellor Olaf Scholz of failing to take strong enough action to reduce carbon emissions and, specifically, of not targeting private aviation. They repeated much of the rhetoric used by the groups that disrupted the European Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition last month, conflating allegations of disproportionate environmental damage with perceived unjust wealth disparities.

“Millionaires and billionaires contribute disproportionately to the degradation of our livelihoods,” said the Letze Generation statement. “A four-hour private flight emits as much carbon dioxide as a person causes in a year. The emissions that billionaires are responsible for alone through their own consumption of private jets, super yachts, and luxury villas amount to a thousand times the global per capita emissions.”

In a written response, Chancellor Scholz appeared to criticize unlawful actions, while hinting that his government may be willing to introduce further legislation to tackle climate change. “One thing is clear: the owners of private jets, limousines, and super yachts will not leave them voluntarily,” he commented. “To lower these emissions, regulations and laws will be needed."

 The airport is on the North Sea island of Westerland, which is a popular summer-season resort.