Last month, Virgin Atlantic announced that it would no longer assist the U.K. government by providing seats for passengers being involuntarily deported from the country, but for the time being, the controversial practice appears to be continuing without interruption.
When Virgin Atlantic officials unveiled a new policy of no longer allowing the U.K. to use the airline’s flights to deport detainees from the country, the decision was hailed by both human rights groups and the LGBT community. The move came after mounting controversy over the alleged government deportation of lawful immigrants and the reported removal of homosexual and transgender asylum seekers who faced imminent danger in their countries of origin.
“We’ve made the decision to end all involuntary deportations on our network, and have already informed the Home Office,” the airline told the Evening Standard in a June 29 statement. “We believe this decision is in the best interest of our customers and people.”
Now, however, it appears Virgin officials are in no hurry to implement the new rules. According to The Independent, only a day after the carrier announced its defiant policy regarding forced deportations, the airline finalized arrangements to participate in the involuntary deportation of a Nigerian man.
The airline would not comment on the incident other than to clarify that the new policy regarding involuntary deportations would not take effect until August. Activists who praised the airline’s decision only a few days ago are now calling on the company to immediately make good on its word.
Among those confused about Virgin’s intentions is MP David Lammy. He used social media to shame the airline over being less than clear about the details of its policy on allowing its flights to be used to remove deportees from the country.
“Hi @Virgin Atlantic, I’ve got a few questions I hope you can answer,” Lammy wrote in a Twitter post on Tuesday. “1) Why are you still assisting forced deportations until 1 Aug? 2) How many do you expect to carry out before this date? 3) After 1 Aug, will you still assist with ‘voluntary’ deportations?”
If Virgin Atlantic officials responded to Lammy’s queries, they did not do so publicly. It seems Virgin’s attempt to do the right thing has made absolutely no one happy. Twitter users, on both sides of the issue, took the opportunity to slam the airline on one hand for not cooperating with law enforcement and on the other hand for taking too long to end its “complicity” with the Home Office.