Sixteen arrested as climate activists protest at Swedish airports

Climate activists staged protests at airports across Sweden on Sunday, police said, causing brief air traffic delays as they called for the government to stop subsidising the aviation industry.

SAS and Norwegian planes at Arlanda airport in Sweden. 
SAS and Norwegian planes at Arlanda airport, one of the Swedish airports affected by Extinction Rebellion protests on Sunday. Jonathan NACKSTRAND / AFP

Activists from the protest group Extinction Rebellion claimed responsibility for the coordinated actions, which took place as the UN COP26 climate conference opened in Glasgow.

Police said 16 people had been arrested at seven airports across the Scandinavian country.

At Stockholm’s Arlanda airport, four demonstrators were detained for disruptive behaviour on board two separate aircraft preparing for departure, after being removed from the planes.

The four were suspected of aircraft and airport sabotage, police said.

Among the other protesters was a woman who glued her hands to the runway at the airport in the southern city of Malmo, while four others were arrested for making their way onto the tarmac at the Bromma airport outside Stockholm.

“We have to stop emissions where they can be avoided. That is why we want the state and municipalities to stop subsidising fossil fuel industries, including aviation and airports,” Extinction Rebellion said in a statement.

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”