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Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Caught Helping With Deportations Despite Promise to End the Practice

Virgin Caught Helping With Deportations Despite Promise to End the Practice
Jeff Edwards

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.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (10)


  1. UncleDude

    July 6, 2018 at 4:43 am

    Virgin Atlantic is now 52% Delta/USA owned..27% AF/KL and EU owned .So nothing the UK Virgin Atlantic Board or Government says means anything.

    Oh and the remaining 21% is probably some offshore Non British Company.

    So Like Trumps Taxes its something only the TaxMan knows.

  2. JackE

    July 6, 2018 at 2:58 pm

    If an airline, Virgin or otherwise, is not going to assist a government in its lawful operations, then there is no reason for a government to assist the airline with air traffic controllers and air marshalls, etc., etc.

  3. tnt10

    July 6, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    Perhaps the whole issue of “involuntary deportations” should be taken up with the appropriate members of the UK government and not the airlines carrying out actions decreed legal by said government.
    Place the blame where it belongs and stop the bullying…

  4. SpartyAir

    July 6, 2018 at 9:17 pm

    UncleDude… And just like Trump – So like YOUR taxes it’s something only the tax man knows. What the heck does President Trump’s taxes have anything to do with what Virgin Atlantic is doing in the UK? I feel sorry for trolls like you.

  5. jonsg

    July 7, 2018 at 5:06 am

    JackE, that might apply in dictatorships. In democratic societies, state- and airport-provided services are provided to anyone who requires and/or pays for them, regardless of whether or not they accept contracts with the government.

    No airline is _obliged_ to accept any passenger. It’s in their Terms of Carriage. If they have a specific contract with a government to accept deportees, and they decide to cancel that contract, that doesn’t and shouldn’t affect provision of airport services for their regular operations.

    If you feel otherwise, take a long, hard look at where you live, and what’s become normal there, and think carefully whether those creeping norms are things you’re comfortable with.

  6. sam737

    July 8, 2018 at 2:33 am

    @ JackE: it seems you misunderstand the terms on which commercial airlines and gov agencies do co-exist: commercial air carrier has no legal obligation to assist the government in its deportation operations; government is free to choose other means to conduct this activity; on the contrary, the government IS under obligation to provide safe airspace to all, so it’s mandatory for the gov to assists the air operators with traffic control, security etc.

  7. UncleDude

    July 8, 2018 at 6:04 am

    The UK Government does nothing to assist Airlines. Airlines are only there to pay The Highest Air Taxes and Airport fees in the World.

  8. EZjace

    July 8, 2018 at 3:36 pm

    +1 Good 4 Virgin Atlantic!

  9. KRSW

    July 8, 2018 at 8:05 pm

    Don’t like the laws of your country? Work to change them.

    Blatantly ignoring laws is a slippery slope. When a country/company/citizens stop enforcing the laws on the books, it becomes lawless. Following every whim of social media is just mob mentality/anarchy.

  10. Dhamal

    November 13, 2018 at 6:15 am

    Well said KRSW

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