By Sophie Squire
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Stop companies profiting from deportations

Issue 2788
TUI plane in the sky

TUI Airways carries out the most deportation charter flights

Commercial airline service TUI Airways Limited is under mounting pressure to cease deportation charter flights.

Forcing TUI to stop its flights would be a victory for activists who have regularly protested outside the company’s offices in Brighton. 

Virgin Atlantic was similarly forced to end a ­partnership with the Home Office in 2018 after increasing public outrage over the Windrush Scandal. 

From 2020 the Home Office and TUI’s partnership has caused misery for people trapped in Britain’s deadly immigration system. 

The company chartered nine flights in 2020 and over 20 in 2021, quickly becoming the commercial airline that carried out the most deportations. 

Those forced onto flights were sent to Ghana, Zimbabwe, Vietnam and Jamaica. 

Profit was behind TUI’s move to deporting people. In 2020 the company lost around £2.7 billion earnings due to the pandemic. 

The German government gave the company was given a bailout of over £4 billion. But this didn’t stop it doing deportations. In fact, the number doubled. 

The Home Office pays millions to private companies to carry out its deportations. It spent £8.2 million on 47 ­charter flights in 2020. 

In August last year seven people were deported to Jamaica at an estimated cost of £43,000 per person. 

From these figures, it’s clear that TUI made millions from charter flights. This money could have been used to instead help refugees trapped in the asylum system.

One deportee recalled to Corporate Watch the night before they were kicked out of Britain. They described the horror of the situation made possible by greedy private companies.  

“I heard that I had lost my appeal. I was desperate. I started to cut myself. I wasn’t the only one. Eight people self-harmed or tried to kill themselves rather than be taken on that plane. One guy threw a kettle of boiling water on himself.

“One man tried to hang himself with the cable of the TV in his room.”

How much TUI makes from deportations is unclear due to dodgy deals made by the Home Office and third-party private company Carlson Wagonlit (CWT).

CWT is an exclusive travel agency that since 2004 has been employed by the Home Office to hook private travel companies to carry out deportations. 

In 2017 the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration revealed just how much business the company gets.

“Annually it receives 21,000 booking requests from Home Office caseworkers 

for tickets for enforced removals. CWT also managed flight rescheduling, cancellations and refunds. The volume of transactions processed varied from 5,000 to 8,000 per month,” it reported. 

At present CWT’s contract with the Home Office is worth £5.7 million and will end in 2024. 

TUI may be under pressure to stop deportation flights, but other travel companies will be waiting in the wings to pick up the ­contracts CWT offers. Budget airline EasyJet carries out the most deportations to eastern Europe, and British Airways and Qatar Airways also regularly carry out flights. 

Travel companies making large profits from deportations are just the tip of the iceberg. 

Detention centres that hold those facing deportation are also run by private companies, including GEO Group, Mitie and Serco. 

Clearsprings Ready Home, which runs Napier Barracks, pocketed a £1 billion Home Office contract.

Credit reporting company Experian also conducted financial checks to define immigration statuses. 

Private companies profit from deportation horror. But protests by ordinary people have the power to stop them.

Last November activists prevented a flight to Jamaica and in May protesters in Glasgow stopped two men from being taken by border forces.

Anti-racists must keep up the pressure on firms and the government to halt deportations.

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