Privilege Style Airline Pulls Out of the UK-Rwanda Deportation Agreement
Following criticism from activists, Privilege Style, a Spanish charter airline hired to transport those seeking asylum in the United Kingdom to Rwanda on Friday, October 21, withdrew from the agreement.
In June, Privilege Style attempted to transport asylum seekers to the east African country but the plan was halted due to a last-minute decision by the European Court of Human Rights.
In an effort to address the rising number of refugees arriving in the UK through tiny boats in the English Channel, the UK and the Rwandan government announced a £120 million agreement in April to outsource the UK’s asylum system.
In accordance with the agreement, those who enter the UK illegally—for example, via small boat—could be forced onto charter planes and transported to the east African country.
Several human rights organizations criticized the plan due to Rwanda’s track record as an authoritarian state that frequently jails, tortures, and kills alleged political opponents.
More Insight on Privilege Styles’ withdrawal…
The Mallorca-based airline has earned a reputation as the “airline of last resort” for the UK government due to its readiness to operate deportation flights when other airlines balked at doing so. Privilege Style, however, announced that it will no longer run flights to Rwanda following an email campaign by organizations supporting refugees and torture survivors.
The announcement from Privilege Style came as public rallies protesting the airline’s actions intensified. Freedom from Torture, which spearheaded the #StopTheFlights movement, honored the company with the “worst airline of the year” title on October 14th, in front of the media at the carrier’s headquarters in Palma de Mallorca. Shortly after the demonstration, the airline wrote a letter to the organization announcing that the company would no longer be operating flights to Rwanda.
Privilege Style’s decision to stop transporting torture victims to Rwanda sends a clear message to the aviation industry: “If you try to profit from the suffering of refugees, you will be held accountable.”
The British government currently does not have an airline to transport asylum seekers. Titan Airways and AirTanker, two additional charter airlines that have operated deportation flights in the past, have already ruled themselves out of the project.
A representative for the UK Home Office stated, “We remain committed to our world-leading migration partnership with Rwanda, which will see those who come to the UK through dangerous, illegal, and unnecessary routes relocated to Rwanda to rebuild their lives there.”
The representative added, “Rwanda is a safe and secure country with a strong track record of supporting asylum seekers, and we will continue to robustly defend the partnership in the courts. We do not comment on operational matters.”