London City Airport protest ends, 9 arrested
Flights resumed at London City Airport after hours of disruption on Tuesday caused by demonstrators, who blocked a runway to protest expansion plans.
The protest disrupted travel from just before dawn until early afternoon. It ended after nine persons were arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass.
The group Black Lives Matter has claimed responsibility for the protest on social media. It says expansion consigns the local community of Newham to environmental degradation. The group says the airport caters to people working in financial services — not the local population affected by its presence.
“It is an airport designed for the wealthy,” the group said in a statement. “At the same time 40 per cent of Newham’s population struggle to survive on 20,000 pounds ($26,600) or less. When black people in Britain are 28 per cent more likely to be exposed to air pollution than their white counterparts, we know that environmental inequality is a racist crisis.”
Hundreds of passengers were affected. By late morning, 16 flights were cancelled and 12 were delayed.
Among those affected was Casey Collins, a freelance management consultant from Devizes in Wiltshire who was supposed to be on a 7:35 am flight to Luxembourg. At first, he thought the long lines were related to the IT problems being experienced by British Airways on Tuesday.
“The problem was that there were only two or three staff there and the queue was about 150 yards long, so it was impossible,” he said. “Pretty soon they realised they would have to do a queue-walk to inform everyone. People were behaving themselves. They know it was not the airport’s fault, but for a time it was a bit chaotic.”
The demonstration was the second in as many months by the anti-racism activists, who blocked traffic leading to Heathrow and held other protests in several British cities. Activists say black men in Britain are unfairly targeted by law enforcement.
Last month’s protest marked the fifth anniversary of the death of Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old black man shot by the London police under disputed circumstances on August 4, 2011. The killing sparked several nights of rioting in Britain’s worst civil disorder in decades.
British Airways passengers stranded due to glitch in check-in system
The British Airways (BA) on Tuesday warned that customers could face further delays, after a computer glitch in its global check-in system held up some flights, particularly in the US, for hours. “Our IT team are working hard to fix this issue,” BA tweeted on its Twitter page. A BA spokeswoman said passengers gathered at London’s main airports would face delays to outbound flights. “We are checking in customers at Heathrow and Gatwick Airport this morning, although it is taking longer than usual,” she said, adding that: “We would encourage customers to check in online before they reach the airport.” At Phoenix airport in the US, Karen Reyburn tweeted: “After six hours, I am actually sitting on a plane! Excitement!”