London airports facing delays due to protest at City airport, British Airways technical glitch

Emergency services surrounding protesters from the movement Black Lives Matter after they locked themselves to a tripod on the runway at London City Airport in London on Sept 6, 2016. Flights at London City Airport were delayed after Black Lives Matt
Emergency services surrounding protesters from the movement Black Lives Matter after they locked themselves to a tripod on the runway at London City Airport in London on Sept 6, 2016. Flights at London City Airport were delayed after Black Lives Matter protesters crossed the dock and "occupied" the runway.PHOTO: AFP
British Airways said it was experiencing a computer glitch with its check-in system that was reportedly causing delays at several airports.
British Airways said it was experiencing a computer glitch with its check-in system that was reportedly causing delays at several airports.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - Travellers flying through three major London airports faced delays on Tuesday (Sept 6) due to a protest at City airport and a technological glitch at British Airways (BA) that affected check-in times.

City Airport in the east of the capital delayed flights as protesters swam across a dock and "occupied" the runway.

The police said nine protesters had locked themselves together on the runway of London City Airport - a hub which lies a few miles east of the Canary Wharf financial district that mostly handles short-haul flights to business destinations in Europe.

"Officers are currently on scene and are negotiating with them. We are awaiting the arrival of specialist resources that are able to 'unlock' the protesters," said the police.

A photograph circulating on Twitter showed the protesters surrounded by police and lying under a wooden tripod. They had erected two large posters with the slogans "Black Lives Matter"and "Climate Crisis is a Racist Crisis".

The campaign group Black Lives Matter said its activists were behind the protest. "London City Airport was #shutdown," it said in a statement.

The British arm of "Black Lives Matter", which started in the United States as a reaction to fatal shootings of black people by white US police officers, said it wanted to highlight Britain's environmental impact on the lives of black people locally and globally.

"Black people are the first to die, not the first to fly, in this racist climate crisis," the group said in a statement. "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."

The campaign group said the airport was designed for the wealthy while those who lived near the site struggled on low salaries.

Ten people from Black Lives Matter were arrested in August after they blocked the main road to London's Heathrow Airport.

BA, owned by International Consolidated Airlines Group, apologised to customers for delays to their journeys and encouraged passengers to check in online before they reached the airport.

BA said on Monday it was experiencing a computer glitch with its check-in system that was reportedly causing delays at several airports in the United States.

The airline said in a statement that IT teams were working to resolve the problem.

Analysts at RBC said the hold-ups - the second problem with the service this year - could damage the airline's reputation. Shares in BA's owner rose 1 per cent.

At airports in San Francisco, Washington and Atlanta, travellers flying British Airways reported on social media that they waited in line for hours to check-in. BA did not comment on social media reports of the delays.

"Huge computer issue affecting British Airways across USA. Friend at #Dulles tells me pilots by gate but passengers still trying to check in!" Twitter user John Bevir wrote.

It was unclear the number of flights that were delayed.

British Airways said it was checking in customers as normal at Heathrow and Gatwick, London's two biggest airports, but it was taking longer than normal.