London City Airport was brought to a standstill on Tuesday morning after a group of Black Lives Matter activists stormed the runway.
The demonstrators say they have “shut down London City Airport to protest the UK’s environmental impact on black people”.
Police said the nine protesters locked themselves together and erected a tripod on the runway, while it has been reported that they bypassed security and reached the airport by using a rubber dinghy to cross the docks.
As of around 10.15am, there had been seven arrests, but only two protesters had been removed from the runway.
Swathes of outgoing flights have been cancelled, while incoming planes have been diverted to Gatwick and Southend airports.
The activist group, which launched a series of protests around the country last month, said on Twitter: “At London City Airport a small elite is able to fly, in 2016 alone 3,176 migrants have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean.
In an update at 10.15 am, a spokesman said seven people have been arrested so far on suspicion of aggravated trespass, being unlawfully air-side and breaching London City Airport bylaws.
Of the seven, two have been removed from the runway, while work continues to remove the remaining activists.
The group of protesters were seen huddled together on the runway, causing all flights due to land at the airport to be diverted.
A witness at the airport, which was used by a record 4.3 million passengers last year, told the Evening Standard: “They got onto the runway using a rubber dinghy from the dock.
“They are on the runway surrounded by police. I’m not sure if they are chained together but they are huddled together.”
Plans for the £344 million expansion of the airport were given the green light in July, with the Government saying there will be “generous” compensation packages for local residents affected by the increase in air traffic.
In a statement, the Black Lives Matter group’s UK division said the expansion plans were the cause of the demonstration.
“Recently London City Airport was given approval to expand its capacity, a move that consigns the local community in Newham to further deterioration of their environment,” they said.
“The average salary of a London City Airport user is 136,000 euros (£114,000) and 63% of them work in business, finance or other business services.
The protest follows similar scenes last month when Black Lives Matter campaigners brought traffic to a standstill on the road to Heathrow airport on a day of action which featured protests around the UK.