Heathrow Airport Could Close If Extinction Rebellion Drone Protests Go Ahead


Heathrow Airport could be forced to close if Extinction Rebellion activists follow through with their threats to fly drones near the airport.

Heathrow Airport, British Airways Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner on taxiway. Photo: Heathrow Airport

Climate change activists are calling for demonstrations on June 18th and then again for 10 days starting July 1st against the UK’s busiest airport.

The protesters plan is to bring Heathrow Airport to a standstill to raise awareness of global warming and to try and stop Heathrow’s plans to build a third runway.

The Extinction Rebellion is telling anyone booked to fly out of or into Heathrow Airport on these days to change their travel plans, or face the possibility of delays and cancellations.

How do the Extinction Rebellion activists plan to shut down Heathrow Airport?

A document circulated by activists on social media and printed in the Daily Express reads:

“Rebels will use a variety of nonviolent tactics to close down the airport again including, but not limited to, the flying of drones and blocking of public roads leading into the airport.”


This latest statement of intent comes after the group tried to bring central London traffic to a halt over the Easter holidays.

Extinction Rebellion protester in central London. Photo: Extinction Rebellion

Outlining its latest plans to raise climate change awareness, the  Extinction Rebellion said: “On June 18, We plan to carry out nonviolent direct action to ensure Heathrow Authorities close the airport for the day, to create a ‘pause’ in recognition of the genocidal impact of high carbon activities, such as flying, upon the natural world.


“If the Government does not cancel all Heathrow expansion, Extinction Rebellion will act to shut the airport down for up to 10 days from July 1.”

Extinction Rebellion acknowledged that their protest will hit thousands of families’ summer holidays telling the Evening Standard: “While we respect the right to peaceful protest and agree with the need to act on climate change, we don’t agree that passengers should have their well-earned holiday plans with family and friends disrupted.

“Passengers should contact their airline for up to date information on their journeys.”


How do Extinction Rebellion activists plan to use drones?

The Extinction Rebellion activists say that they plan to first visit the Department of Transport and express their desire for an immediate end to the building of a third Heathrow runway.

If their demands are not met, a public picnic and drone session will be held on the fields around Heathrow Airport.

Drone.Photo: Pixabay

When again speaking to the Evening Standard the activists said: Drone flights would begin in the early hours of the morning and those devices would not be used while planes are in the air.

“Authorities would have full knowledge of the intentions so they will have to close the airport as a duty of care to passengers,”

What do the police have to say about this?

These latest threats to use drones come on the back of drone sightings that forced the closure of Gatwick Airport back in December of 2018.

When asked about the latest call to action by Extinction Rebellion, a Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said, according to the Daily Mirror:

“We will be developing strong plans in response to this and will take firm action against any protester seeking to cause disruption at this location by committing criminal offences such as obstruction of the highway.

“The airport is part of our national infrastructure and we will not allow illegal activities of some protesters to cause disruption and misery to thousands of travellers. We would urge anybody intending to join this event with a view to committing criminal activity, whether peaceful or not, to strongly reconsider.”

Police take away climate change protester. Photo:Extinction Rebellion

Meanwhile, a Heathrow spokeswoman said in a report carried by Reuters: “While we respect the right to peaceful protest and agree with the need to act on climate change, we don’t agree that passengers should have their well-earned holiday plans with family and friends disrupted.

“Passengers should contact their airline for up to date information on their journeys.” 

Heathrow Airport expansion to go ahead

This latest action by Extinction Rebellion comes on the back of Heathrow Airport’s expansion getting the go-ahead following a unanimous judges decision to throw out a number of lawsuits trying to stop the construction of a third runway.

An overhead view of Heathrow Airport. Photo:Heathrow Airport

While talking a good game, Extinction Rebellion has failed to attract the number of willing participants required to cause chaos, as was evident in the London traffic protest.

Do you think they will be more successful this time or was just getting their message out in the press all they were really looking to achieve?

Simple Flying contacted Heathrow Airport for comment and they wrote back saying: “This is reckless action that if carried out could endanger the lives of the travelling public and our colleagues. We agree with the need to act on climate change, but that requires us to work together constructively – not commit serious criminal offences just as hardworking people prepare to spend a well-earned holiday with their family and friends.”