Aer Lingus flight to Dublin grounded by Extinction Rebellion protester

Aer Lingus flight to Dublin grounded by Extinction Rebellion protester
Extinction Rebellion protesters at London City Airport

Extinction Rebellion activists have been arrested amid demonstrations aimed at shutting down a London airport.

An Aer Lingus flight from London City Airport to Dublin was delayed when a protester on board stood up and began to deliver a lecture on climate change.

The plane, which was about to take off, had to return to the terminal as a result of the disruption.

BBC Newsnight political editor Nicholas Watt, who was on the flight, tweeted to say that a “smartly dressed man in late middle age” stood up to deliver his lecture in the aisle, and politely declined to take his seat when asked to by cabin crew.

Aer Lingus said the passenger was removed “due to disruptive behaviour on board” and a full security check of the aircraft was completed prior to the flight departing.

Meanwhile, 83-year-old Phil Kingston was among those arrested as hundreds of people blocked the main entrance for passengers – the third time he has been arrested as part of Extinction Rebellion protests in the past week.

A protester stands on the roof of the terminal building at London City Airport (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
A protester stands on the roof of the terminal building at London City Airport (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

The activists are attempting a three-day “Hong Kong-style occupation of the terminal building” to highlight what they claim is the “incompatibility” of the east London airport’s planned expansion with meeting the UK Government’s legally binding commitment to cut emissions to net-zero by 2050.

At City Airport, passengers arriving for flights on Thursday were redirected to a second terminal entrance by security workers and were not allowed to enter the building without showing their boarding cards.

An activist who gave her name as Claire, 51, told the PA news agency: “I don’t know what’s going to happen over the next few hours, but I do know that a number of people have come here, City Airport, today to make the statement that there are many areas of our lives that are going to have to change because of the climate crisis we’ve created, and one of them is flying.

“We can’t carry on with life, with business as usual,” she said.

Claire said she had not made up her mind about whether she would allow herself to be arrested, but was later led away by police officers.

A man is removed by police during an Extinction Rebellion climate change protest at London City Airport (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
A man is removed by police during an Extinction Rebellion climate change protest at London City Airport (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

A spokesman for the airport said: “We can confirm that a number of protesters have arrived at London City Airport.

“We continue to work closely with the Metropolitan Police to ensure the safe operation of the airport, which remains fully open and operational.”

Activists continued to cause disruption outside the terminal, as several sat down on the zebra crossing, blocking traffic going in and out of the passenger drop-off zone.

Cars and buses were backed up in both directions before the demonstrators were cleared from the roads by police.

It is the latest wave of Extinction Rebellion protests which are taking place for a fourth day in the capital, calling for urgent action to tackle climate change and wildlife losses.

Roads around the British Parliament and Whitehall remained closed to traffic apart from cyclists amid a heavy police presence, with protesters camped in Trafalgar Square and nearby St James’s Park.

A total of 800 people had been arrested in connection with the protests by Wednesday night, the Metropolitan Police said.

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