Passengers face long queues after airport protest

Fed-up airline passengers stood in long queues at Stansted Airport today after a protest by environmental campaigners closed the runway.

The cancellation of 56 flights and delays to dozens of others left thousands of people with nothing to do but wait.

Terry Purton, 61, of Edenbridge, Kent, had been due to board a flight to Bratislava until the protest by Plane Stupid closed the runway.

"I just wish the protesters had left it for a couple of hours.

"I just can't stand the queuing."

Mr Purton, chief executive of a sign company, added: "I do wonder about security. They did it to protest so it shows somebody more serious could as well.

"If they can do it, I'm sure there would be nothing to stop terrorists."

He praised the way the airport had treated delayed passengers.

"They've kept us informed. They've come round and given us water. I don't think there's anything more they can do."

Teacher Anne Nordbye, 35, from Oslo, Norway, disagreed. She had spent the weekend Christmas shopping in London and was due to fly home at 6.30am.

"The information has not been very good," she said. "Luckily, I have a brother who works at an airport in Norway so he has kept me up to date with what has been happening. Otherwise I would have been really in the dark and frustrated."

She added it was "worrying" that the protest had been able to take place.

"How did they do it?" she said. "That's what I would like to know. It's worrying. There must be cameras to spot this type of thing."

Student Andrew Montgomery, 25, from Glasgow, had been set to fly home at 8.40am after visiting family in the London area.

"I think it's pretty bad. I don't think they should have been able to get where they did," he said of the protesters.

Vivienne Brinton, 56, from Harlow, Essex, had been due to fly to her second home in France.

"I suppose people will have some sympathy with the protesters.

"But in the modern world we live in, people want to travel. Cheap flights allow us to have homes elsewhere.

"I mean, for me, Ryanair is absolutely fantastic.

"And there are other problems - what about all the pollution caused by shipping?"

Ms Brinton said her flight had cost about £30 return and allowed her to "go backwards and forwards" between her two homes while her mother was sick.

"I shall just go home and try again another day," she added.

Another woman said she was flying to Bremen, Germany, to spend the day at a Christmas market.

"We were going for a girly day out to look around the market and we are thoroughly disappointed.

"The flight has been cancelled because some delightful people have decided to drive a fire engine around a runway, we hear.

"I think it really is a shame because they are not going to get any sympathy because of this disruption."