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PROTEST-AIRT: Protesting the global air transport industry

Social movements fighting for the preservation of local communities and the planet

A man hold a protest sign about the environmental impact of a long-haul flight from Amsterdam to Hong Kong
Photo: Alexander Araya López

PROTEST-AIRT is a multi-actor and inter-scalar research project aiming at understanding the growing global and European dissent against the air transport industry. Before the pandemic, air transport was expected to growth at a rate of about 4% per year, including both more frequent flyers in developed nations and new markets in the 'developing' world. This future demand was paired with new infrastructural projects, namely new airports and airport expansions. Recently, several social movements have been campaigning in Europe to create awareness about the series of 'side effects' associated to this global industry, from aircraft noise to CO2 and non-CO2 emissions.

Airports have become both the site and objects of diverse forms of dissent. As sites of dissent, airports have been the place where activists congregate and exert their democratic rights through claim-making, oftentimes engaging in 'radical' and performative protest acts. As object of dissent, the narratives about airports and airlines as spaces/companies of interconnection and development have been challenged by these dissenting citizens, proposing alternative readings of airports and airlines as spaces of destruction and overconsumption. The PROTEST-AIRT project focuses on selected cases of European activism that target the global air transport industry, including collectives such as Schiphol Watch in the Netherlands, Am Boden Bleiben in Germany, Extinction Rebellion in United Kingdom, Zeroport in Spain and the umbrella organization Stay Grounded, which connects action groups from all over the world.

PROTEST-AIRT approaches these social movements through the analysis of media texts, in-depth interviews, visual documentation of acts of dissent through participant observation, analysis of social media data (in specific of Twitter as political platform) and secondary literature produced by airports/airlines, local and national governments or social movements alike. The project will study the ongoing debate apropos potential solutions for the aviation industry and their limits.


PROTEST-AIRT is in synchrony with Europe 2030 targets, considering that these social movements are campaigning for a significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (net zero) and for increasing the share of renewable energy and energy efficiency, including expanding rail transport. In terms of United Nation's 17 Sustainable Development Goals, PROTEST-AIRT links to goals 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities, 13 Climate Action and 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

PROTEST-AIRT encourages the development of a better, sustainable tourism, a key industry for Europe, setting parameters that could be adopted by other nations/regions while impacting Europe’s competitiveness and growth. PROTEST-AIRT helps to amplify the voices to European social movements and empowers citizens in their bottom-up governance efforts (impacting Europe’s democratic institutions and political participation). It creates awareness about the important role played by media in their representation of political conflicts, mainly in their reporting of ‘radical’ acts of dissent and civil/democratic disobedience.

The project will educate the citizenship apropos the relevance of the aviation industry and aims at making airports/airlines less contentious infrastructure/services. The project creates a bridge between the needs of European citizens and the tourism/aviation industry, therefore strengthening the collaboration between entrepreneurs and social scientists at local, European and global levels.

This website aims at contributing to this global discussion on air transport and its various positive and negative effects by facilitating access to research data, theoretical concepts, interviews and other information produced by this PROTEST-AIRT project. The website is updated monthly.

This project has received funding from the European Union's Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon Europe (2021-2027) under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No 101057156.