This map brings together case studies documenting a diversity of injustice related to airport projects across the world. It was developed in collaboration between the Environmental Justice Atlas and Stay Grounded.
For more information, or in case you want to contribute with information on a local airport struggle, please contact: mapping[at]stay-grounded[dot]org
Mapping Airport-related Injustice and Resistance
The map brings together case studies documenting a diversity of injustice related to airport projects across the world. Affected communities contend with a multitude of injustices: forced eviction, land dispossession, destruction of ecosystems, construction work impacts and health damage from pollution. Injustices arise from new airports and expansion of existing airports. Many passenger-oriented airport projects aim to increase tourism. The map also includes cargo airports, two of which are for delivery of equipment for fossil fuel projects: Komo Airport to serve Papua New Guinea’s PNG LNG project and Hoima Airport to support oil development on the shore of Lake Albert in Uganda. The map includes aerotropolis (airport city) projects: airports surrounded by aviation-dependent commercial and industrial development. Examples include Nijgadh Airport (Nepal), Kertajati and Kulon Progo (Indonesia), Bhogapuram, Purandar and Andal (India), a second airport on Jeju Island (South Korea) and New Phnom Penh Airport (Cambodia).
The key issue in the majority of the cases is land acquisition. Allocation of large sites, often farmland and fishing grounds, for airport projects, means entire communities, in some instances thousands of people residing in multiple villages, face loss of their homes and livelihoods. Many communities resisting displacement have suffered state repression: forced evictions, harassment, intimidation, arrests, imprisonment and violence. There are several incidences of conflicts between affected communities and state forces resulting in deaths and injuries. A number of suicides by people facing displacement for airport projects are documented.
The map showcases a number of inspirational victories against airport projects. New airports threatening destruction of farmland in Nantes (France) and Aranmula (India) have been halted, along with a major new airport that would have paved over a large swath of the Arial Beel wetlands in Bangladesh. An airport on Koh Phangan Island (Thailand) was halted after forest was illegally cleared for the project. But in many cases opposition to an airport development results in the project being stalled rather than stopped. The prospect, or actuality, of airport schemes being re-instigated means affected communities endure ongoing uncertainty and distress.
Impacted communities have also secured partial victories, such as increased compensation for land acquisition in the cases of Sentani Airport (Indonesia) and Bhogapuram Airport (India), with the latter being an example of activism successfully reducing the land area allocated to the project. Farmers whose land was bulldozed without warning for an airport in Ekiti (Nigeria) secured a court ruling that forcible takeover of their land was illegal and ordering payment for damages.
Serious environmental damage
Site clearance for many airport projects obliterates wildlife habitats and biodiversity. One of the most serious cases of deforestation in Sri Lanka occurred in the area where Mattala Airport was subsequently constructed. Proposed airport projects threatening large-scale deforestation include Mopa Airport (India) and Nepal’s Nijgadh Airport which raises the prospect of 2.4 million trees being felled. Land reclamation for coastal airports also destroys ecosystems. Mangroves in Manila Bay have already been cut for Bulacan Aerotropolis and coral reefs and seagrass beds could be at risk for a proposed second airport on Tioman Island (Malaysia).
Airport construction can have serious negative environmental and health impacts on neighbouring communities. Residents living in the midst of earthworks for Navi Mumbai Airport have been injured by flying rocks from blasting works and suffer high levels of dust pollution. Komo Airport in Papua New Guinea and Pakyong Airport in India are notable instances of the use of enormous volumes of aggregates for construction causing unstable ground and landslips. In Nepal, local conservation groups opposed extraction of sand and gravel from local riverbeds for construction of Gautam Buddha Airport.
Once airports are operational neighboring communities are exposed to pollutants emitted by aircraft and high noise levels. Aviation fuel leaks can contaminate water supplies. Major jet fuel leaks from facilities supplying two US air bases are documented and a new facility supplying aviation fuel to Vancouver Airport brings the risk of polluting the Fraser River.
Mapping to strengthen connectivity
The Map of Airport-related Injustice and Resistance serves as a tool to help strengthen connectivity between affected communities and their supporters, building international solidarity to strengthen the growing global movement against multiple injustices relating to airport projects. The map is an ongoing project co-ordinated by EJAtlas and the Stay Grounded network. We are grateful for the information shared by organisations and activists. The research team is co-ordinated by Rose Bridger (Stay Grounded) and Sara Mingorria (ICTA-UAB) and also consists of Brototi Roy, Emmy Iwarsson and others.
The team encourages people to join us and participate in adding and updating cases. Get in contact at: