Activists’ breach of Paris CDG Airport raises security concerns

The aircraft that was vandalised in the incident on March 5. Photo: © Eric Salard

Activists of Greenpeace were able to breach the security fence at Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport and vandalise a Boeing 777 before being stopped by police.

Individuals involved in the activity posted videos to Social Media on Friday morning. Several people could be seen climbing over the fence onto the active airfield, some were wearing professional painting suits. The trespassers then started spraying green paint on the Air France Boeing 777. At least four people belonging to the group of nine used their ladders to climb onto the wing and fuselage of the aircraft.

The vandalism incident immediately raised security and safety concerns, not least because of the time it took airport security and police took to arrive at the scene after the individuals had breached the airfield. Although it is certainly possible to overcome a security fence, it is unusual to see police take rather long to respond to intruders on an airport. Running onto an active airfield for any reason is extremely dangerous for both the trespassers themselves, as well as for other people, including travellers.

Affected was a 22-year-old Boeing 777-200 of flag-carrier Air France, registered as F-GSPB. Due to the ongoing Coronavirus crisis, the aircraft had been withdrawn from use and stored at the airport since March 2020, according to Its sensors and other sensitive elements were sealed off and therefore likely not damaged. Despite being grounded, the plane was quickly moved into a paint hangar to remove the graffiti.

Government response

Shortly after the incident, France’s Minister Delegate for Transport, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, said in a tweet that his office will launch an administrative investigation into how the individuals were able to breach the airport’s security. He asked airport operator Aéroports de Paris (ADP) to provide a security plan “as soon as possible”.

According to French media reports on Sunday evening, the activists will stand trial on June 18th.