Activist Climbs On Top Of British Airways Plane Causing London City Chaos

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London City Airport has been mired in chaos today as Extinction Rebellion protesters attempt to shut the airport down in a ‘Hong Kong style protest’. From early this morning, police have been arresting activists outside the terminal, although some have managed to infiltrate the airport. One protestor, a blind Paralympian, even managed to climb onto the roof of a British Airways CityFlyer aircraft, while another delayed an Aer Lingus flight by two hours by refusing to take his seat.

XR activist
An XR activist climbs on a BA plane. Photo: XR

James Brown climbs on British Airways plane

In perhaps the most outrageous act we’ve seen so far today, a man not only managed to infiltrate the apron at London City Airport, but also succeeded in approaching a plane, climbing the airstairs and somehow getting onto the roof of the aircraft.

The man has since been named as Northern Irish Paralympian James Brown, a former double gold medal-winning cyclist. Now in his early 50’s, the visually impaired Brown was reportedly scared of heights, but determined to make a stand.

The Independent reports that he said it was  “all about the climate and the ecological crisis – we’re protesting against government inaction on climate and ecological breakdown. They declare a climate emergency and then do nothing about it.”


Eventually, the fire brigade used a cherry picker to remove the man from the plane, draping an orange blanket over him as they hoisted him down. He was escorted away from the aircraft by police, along with a fellow protester who had been filming the event.

The aircraft, an Embraer ERJ-190, was due to operate BA8453 for BA CityFlyer from London City Airport to Amsterdam. Flight Radar is showing the flight as being cancelled, presumably as the aircraft will need to be checked for damage.

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Simple Flying reached out to BA, who told us,

“We are re-booking affected customers onto alternative flights to Amsterdam so that they will all get to their destinations as quickly as possible.”

Aer Lingus plane grounded

In another exhibition of determination, passengers on board an Aer Lingus flight from London to Dublin were delayed by almost two hours when a ‘smartly dressed, middle aged’ man refused to take his seat. The passenger instead proceeded to give a lecture on climate change up and down the aisle, filming himself on his iPhone all the while.


Despite being heckled by fellow passengers, the activist refused to sit down. Eventually, he was removed from the plane by police. The aircraft, an Avro RJ85 operated by Cityflyer, eventually took off an hour and 42 minutes late.

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Earlier in the day, an activist managed to navigate his way through the razor wire to get onto the roof of the airport.

Numerous other videos have emerged on social media of activists chanting, singing, dancing and, very often, being arrested.

First of three days

Extinction Rebellion (XR) is a UK activist movement dedicated to proving that we are in a climate emergency. They were responsible for bringing central London to a standstill earlier in the year with the help of a big pink boat and, more recently, attempted to interfere with operations at Heathrow through the use of drones.

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However, today’s activity has been markedly well supported from the XR side. And it’s not over yet. The website states that this is the first of three days of protests at the airport. It describes the action as a ‘Hong Kong style’ occupation:

“In the biggest mass participation action of the International Rebellion, the Fly Today, No Tomorrow action will involve a ‘Hong Kong style’ occupation of the terminal building, lying, sitting or gluing-on in front of the departure and arrivals gates. Hundreds of participants have already signed up to nonviolently use their bodies to close the airport, and are willing to sacrifice their liberty to achieve this aim”

Booked to fly from London City?

Although XR activists are making quite the scene at LCY right now, so far their actions have had a minimal effect on flights. Only the Aer Lingus delayed flight this morning and the one BA flight which was canceled have seen any impact.

Most of the impact will be felt while actually getting into the airport. Aside from the activists making passage difficult, LCY is not allowing anyone into the terminal building without a boarding pass. This means additional time getting inside the airport, so we would recommend giving yourself extra time before your flight.

If you are booked to fly in the next couple of days, it’s worth keeping an eye on the news and keeping in touch with your carrier, just in case things escalate any further. Simple Flying will keep you updated too.

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