Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam was the site of a massive climate protest Saturday, as activists blocked private jets from taking off.

Over 500 protesters from Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion assembled at Schiphol Airport on Saturday afternoon, according to a press release from Greenpeace. They carried flags and banners, with slogans like “Fly no more” and “SOS for the climate” as they took their places on a runway used exclusively for private jets. They sat themselves on the tarmac around parked jets to ensure none could move while other demonstrations happened inside the terminal.

According to Major Robert Kapel, a spokesperson for the Dutch border police, no flights were scheduled for that runway during the hours of the protest and air traffic was unaffected. Some news sources reported that the protesters blocked a medical flight, but the medical flight was not due to land on the affected runway and chose to redirect out of an abundance of caution, not because they were obstructed.

The protesters’ message was quite clear – they want a massive reduction in private air travel, which contributes a disproportionate amount of air pollution.

“The airport should be reducing its flight movements, but instead it’s building a brand-new terminal,” said Dewi Zloch, spokesperson for Greenpeace Netherlands in a statement. “The wealthy elite is using more private jets than ever, which is the most polluting way to fly. This is typical of the aviation industry, which doesn’t seem to see that it is putting people at risk by aggravating the climate crisis. This has to stop. We want fewer flights, more trains, and a ban on unnecessary short-haul flights and private jets.”

Schiphol Airport had several weeks’ notice that the demonstration would be happening, and had been in communication with Greenpeace Netherlands. Schiphol Airport CEO Ruud Sondag told the activists in advance that civil actions would be welcome, and that his own goal for the airport was to make it emissions-free by 2030.

More than 200 of the demonstrators were arrested, but they were all released within 24 hours.

Photo: Milos Ruzicka / Shutterstock