An Extinction Rebellion protestor stopped a plane from taking off from London City Airport amid protests by climate change activists.
The Aer Lingus flight to Dublin was grounded after the man stood up and ‘delivered a lecture’ on climate change to fellow passengers.
According to people onboard the flight, the plane had to return to the gate where it was met by police who escorted the man off the aircraft.
The situation came as hundreds of Extinction Rebellion activists tried to shut down City Airport by blocking the main entrance for passengers, including some people gluing themselves to the floor.
Video footage from the Aer Lingus flight shows cabin crew asking the man whether he wished to travel or to get off the plane, to which he replied: “I don’t wish to travel with you but I don’t wish to get off.”
Nicholas Watt, political editor on the BBC’s Newsnight programme, was on board the flight.
He wrote on Twitter: “My flight from London City airport to Dublin has just been grounded by a climate change protestor. On runway and about to take off when smartly dressed man in late middle age stood up with iPhone to deliver lecture on climate change up and down aisle.”
He went on: “Cabin crew calmly and very politely asked protestor to resume his seat. Politely but persistently he declined and proceeded to deliver his lecture on climate change in aisle. Some passengers annoyed, others listened to lecture with humour as cabin crew alerted pilot.
“Plane was at the end of runway. So the pilot taxied back to gate where plane was met by throng of police. They came on board and escorted the protestor off the plane. No skirmish and protestor left the plane.”
He went on to describe re-boarding the flight to a welcome by the Aer Lingus crew “who dealt with the episode with calm authority”, but added that the “final irony” was that the plane couldn’t take off until it had taken on extra fuel to replace the fuel used up during the protest.
Aer Lingus confirmed that the man had a ticket for the flight. In a statement, the airline said: “Aer Lingus can confirm that a passenger scheduled to travel on EI283 flight from London City to Dublin airport was removed from the flight due to disruptive behaviour on board.
“The safety and security of our guests and crew is our number one priority and as a result, a full security check of the aircraft was completed prior to the flight departing. The flight departed at 11.16am and is scheduled to arrive in Dublin at 12.37pm. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
Extinction Rebellion 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 £2 billion expansion with meeting the Government's legally binding commitment to go net carbon neutral by 2050.
Police made several arrests as the group sat and chanted "Fly today, gone tomorrow" in unison, as members of the public struggled to get past with their suitcases.