Join the Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement (GAAM)!

By Anita Pleumarom*, March 2015

An alliance of environmental and climate justice campaigners, aviation and tourism critics, and human rights activists have formed the Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement (GAAM) to raise public awareness and to take action on socially and ecologically harmful mega-airport development projects.

So-called ‘airport city’ or ‘aerotropolis’ schemes have been spreading rapidly across the globe in recent years. Even though the immense social, environmental and climate impacts of aviation have been widely recognized, new projects are being announced almost on a daily basis.

The aerotropolis comes as a giant ‘development’ package that includes – among others – an airport and other hardware infrastructure (highways, railways, ports, etc); luxury hotels; shopping and entertainment facilities; convention, trade and exhibition complexes; golf courses and sport stadiums; and industrial parks.

The promoters of aerotropolis point out the glamour of a new dynamic urban form that is “economically efficient, globally competitive, attractive, and sustainable”, according to John Kasarda, the most renowned aerotropolis designer. There is the promise of creating powerful engines of local economic development, attracting aviation- and tourism-linked investors, generating jobs for locals and permitting modernization and added value for the surrounding communities.

However, what is paraded as benign and forward-looking airport-plus-urban/commercial development is in reality a nightmare for many local communities as well as environmental and social justice activists. Those who benefit from aerotropolis projects are not locals, but first and foremost transnational corporations – including construction firms, airlines and other transport companies, hotel chains, real estate companies, consultancies, large-scale retail businesses, the security equipment companies, consultancies and financial institutions. Aerotropolis caters for a small privileged minority of clientele – a hypermobile, frequent-flyer elite that cultivates an obscenely consumeristic and unsustainable lifestyle.

These mega-airport “development” packages involve extremely high economic, social and environmental costs and cause havoc particularly in developing countries with weak democratic structures and law enforcement. Major problems are forceful evictions; dispossession of the people’s access to land, water and other resources; loss of biodiversity and farmland; environmental degradation and pollution; lack of transparency and accountability. In the light of this, it is most troublesome that often scarce government funds and overseas development assistance are being used for the promotion and establishment of such controversial projects.

In conclusion, aerotropolis are damaging, wasteful and exploitative in nature, and they violate human rights in every sense of the word. Therefore, it is not surprising that resistance against such projects has been growing worldwide – from United Kingdom and Turkey, to Tanzania in Africa, India and Taiwan in Asia, to Mexico in Latin America.

The Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement’s (GAAM) endeavor will be to:

  • Support local struggles and strengthen the international ‘campaign community’ against damaging aerotropolis projects; for example, by amplifying the people’s voices, and naming and shaming perpetrators who are directly and indirectly involved in project-related human rights violations, social injustices, environmental crimes, corruption and other illegal and unethical practices (e.g. investors and shareholders, government bodies and politicians, development agencies, consultants);
  • Research, monitor and document aerotropolis developments, highlighting issues such as:

>>land acquisition for projects and related displacements, social injustices, human rights violations (with special consideration for Indigenous Peoples and women);

>> economic implications for surrounding communities (cost-benefit analysis from the local perspective, growing inequality);

>> environmental and climate impacts (deforestation, loss of biodiversity, wildlife, farmland, pollution);

>> aerotropolis as speculative property development;

>> aerotropolis as a driver of consumeristic and unsustainable lifestyle;

>> aerotropolis as gated and heavily militarized areas, where people are under total surveillance and enjoy no democratic rights; deepening social segregation: no access for poor and unwanted people (e.g. migrants);

Raise public awareness and foster debate, e.g. by writing articles, using websites and the social media, making presentations at conferences, and by engaging in symbolic action (protest rallies, exhibitions, arts festivals)

The Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement (GAAM) is connecting all the people, organizations and networks around the world that want to see destructive, wasteful and exploitative mega-airport developments stopped.

Please join GAAM and give active support to our actions!

You may sign up as individual or as an organization; both are important to a collective impact of GAAM.

*Anita Pleumarom is the director of the Tourism Investigation & Monitoring Team (tim-team), Thailand, and a co-founder of the Tourism Advocacy & Action Forum

GAAM co-founders are:

AirportWatch, U.K.

AirportWatch Europe

Pastoralists Indigenous NGO’s (PINGO’S Forum), Tanzania

Rose Bridger, U.K., author of the book ‘Plane Truth

Third World Network (TWN)

Tourism Advocacy & Action Forum (TAAF)

Tourism Investigation & Monitoring Team (tim-team), Thailand

For more information and/or for sign up as supporters, contact:

Rose Bridger,

Anita Pleumarom

Sarah Clayton, Co-ordinator, Airport Watch (UK)

2 thoughts on “Join GAAM

  1. Dear friends

    The new airport at Kasteli; an absurd plan for Crete/ island in Greece.

    Over the past decade, along with a lot of our fellow citizens and a number of community collectives from the city of Heraklion and all over Crete, we have been fighting against the devastating plan to install a new airport right at the heart of the island of Crete. The project concerns the construction of a massive air transport infrastructure in the middle of the island, in between twenty-six historical and traditional villages, in a place where such a construction literally does not fit.

    At the ‘umbilical scope’ of the Minoans and of Homer, at the plain of Pediada, stand the rural hinterlands of Crete, one of the most significant agro-nutritional centers of the region for 5,000 years now, which this project will irrevocably ruin.

    According to documented predictions by independent scientists, the proposal for a new airport in
    Kastelli will destroy the natural environment and the landscape in one of the most fertile and productive plains of mainland Crete.

    The decision to wipe out a vast area of fertile and productive land as well as its waters, in a region of high desertification risk in the middle of the Mediterranean, and even without serious validation, cannot be related to logic. Indicatively, for the realisation of the project, it is necessary to uproot more than 200,000 olive trees, and transform the unique landscape of the area into a dry quarry.

    Moreover, the flora and fauna of an enormous area of about 22,000 acres will be cleared, while mountains and hills of a total volume of at least 10.7 million cubic meters will be detracted. During the operation of the airport in the enclosed basin of Pediada, it is anticipated that the quality of the high-productive land will deteriorate and the water resources will fall into obsolesce, finally eradicating all agricultural and livestock products of an area as as big as 110,000 acres.

    Residents of the nearby settlements who will find themselves just hundreds of meters far from the proposed airport will eventually be forced to move away, not only because of the noise and pollution conditions, but also due to the loss of financial resources from the production of their land.

    Indeed, this cannot be considered a productive reconstruction project for our country. It seems to be a completely unjustified and wasteful solution to address the problems of the current airport of Heraklion. Remarkable is that the feasibility and viability of the project were never studied and proven. Furthermore, the new airport cannot be considered a public work of infrastructure, rather it will be constructed through a consession contract. Its precariously estimated budget of 850 million euros is expected to double-up due to the necessary future expansions and the construction of necessary side infrastructures which have not been calculated (facilities, road network, refueling pipeline, etc).

    Upgrading and Expanding the existing airport as the best alternative.

    Along with us stand the environmental and ecological organizations in Crete, the ECO-CRETE national network, a significant number of cultural and professional associations as well as special scientists and numerous fellow citizens; all of them have strongly questioned the feasibility and viability of the project of the new airport at Kasteli.

    Apart from agreeing that this construction will eventually cause more problems than it is supposed to resolve, they furthermore consider the optimal solution to be both the upgrading and expansion of the current Heraklion airport and its combined operation with the rest two airports of the island (Chania & Sitia). Local and international businessmen and representatives of tourism agree with the alternative presented above, as they argue that the increase in transport costs will have reverse consequences on the development of the island’s aviation and tourism sectors.

    For the realisation of this alternative, no further studies and plans than those already available are needed, while the recently-freed 800 acres of the adjacent former military airbase can be utilized in addition. Thus, with a greatly smaller financial cost, as well as with no environmental and social consequences, both Nea Alikarnassos and Heraklion will be relieved from the current problems caused by its operation. Moreover, the benefits and capabilities of the existing airport are multiplied, simultaneously taking advantage of the island’s existing transport network (airports, ports and highways), meeting the transport demands of Heraklion and Eastern Crete for many decades to follow.

    Add up your signature to the petition!

    It is addressed to the Greek Government, the Region of Crete Authorities and the Municipality of Minoa Pediadas, requesting the procedures for the installation of the huge airport in Kastelli to stop, and support all projects and actions promoting a sustainable economic development for the island of Crete, with respect for man and the environment.

    This is the most critical moment! Now that the government is preparing to sign the agreement with the only contractor who participated in the recent contest. Acting along us will help saving our land for future generations.

    Please note, subscribe to, and disseminate the petition of the citizens of Crete posted at Avaaz, via the address

    We ask for your help to fight united and we will be happy to inform you on the issue.

    With solidarity, we can do it!

    Liked by 1 person

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