On Tuesday, a runway at the London City Airport was closed down briefly due to protestors. Nine Black Lives Matter protestors erected a tripod and chained themselves together on the runway. Their actions disrupted all flights to/from the airport for about 6 hours.
A Twitter account of Black Lives Matter UK initially claimed responsibility for the protest. They cited the impact that the UK’s environmental policies have on sub-Saharan Africa as the main reason for their action.
Black Lives Matter UK (@ukblm) first tweeted about the protest at around 5:51 a.m. local time. The airport itself announced on Twitter that the runway was closed down due to protestors on site.
— #BlackLivesMatterUK (@ukblm) September 6, 2016
Runway is currently closed due to protestors on site. Police are present and we'll resume normal operations as soon as possible. (1/2)
— London City Airport (@LondonCityAir) September 6, 2016
According to Aljazeera, authorities began removing the protestors at 9:30 a.m., a process that took about 2 hours. Airlines mostly operate short-haul flights within Europe to/from London City Airport, with the exception of British Airways’ LCY-JFK service. During the shut down, flights were diverted to Gatwick and Southend airports. London’s City Airport is located near Canary Wharf, which along with the traditional City of London serve as the two major finance centers in London. Its location makes it desirable for business professionals and bankers alike.
As reported by BBC, authorities are now pressing charges against the five men and four women, for aggravated trespass and being unlawfully airside within a restricted area of an aerodrome. All nine were released on bail, and will appear before Westminster magistrates a week from now.
A statement from BLMUK cites the economic disparity as an additional reason for their protest.
The average salary of a London City airport user is €136,000 … It is an airport designed for the wealthy. At the same time, 40% of Newham’s population struggle to survive on £20,000 or less.
Just last month, Black Lives Matter activists also blocked the M4 at Heathrow as part of a larger protest. The protest led to delayed flights in Heathrow, and 19 people were arrested.