About 12 activists broke through security at Stansted Airport Tuesday night and chained themselves together on the runway to stop failed asylum seekers being deported.
The left-wing activists were trying to stop a flight taking up to 100 immigrants back to Nigeria and Ghana.
The runway was closed at about 10pm resulting in eight flights being diverted to other London airports. But by 11.30pm the airport was running as normal.
The protesters were part of three groups called End Deportations, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants and Plane Stupid.
They were heard chanting: ‘No borders, no nations, stop deportations’.
One of the activists blocking the runway, Emma Hughes, said she was trying to prevent families from being separated.
She told Huck Magazine: ‘We’ve taken this action because many people on this flight are being placed in serious danger by being callously deported back to Nigeria and Ghana.’
‘There’s been a lot of attention recently on Trump’s racist Muslim ban, but what’s happening in the UK is equally repellant.’
‘People are being rounded up in the middle of the night based on their perceived nationality, forced on to planes in undisclosed locations and strapped down in their seats with no one witnessing the violence they’re facing.
‘Do we really want to live in the sort of society where these violent and secretive mass deportations are being normalised?’
It costs the UK taxpayer at least an average of £12,000 per year to house someone seeking asylum.
A Home Office spokesman said it could not comment on operational activity but added: ‘We respect everyone’s right to peaceful protest but we are clear that removal is an essential element of an effective immigration system.
‘We expect those with no legal basis to remain in the UK to leave voluntarily but if they do not, we will seek to enforce their departure.’