Vytautas Kielaitis / Shutterstock

German pilots refuse to deport asylum seekers

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222 Lufthansa and Eurowings flights didn’t fly because of pilots’ concern for the welfare of individual passengers

Lufthansa pilots refuse to return asylum seekers to their home countries — Vytautas Kielaitis / ShutterstockLufthansa pilots have refused to return asylum seekers to their home countries — Vytautas Kielaitis / Shutterstock

Germany remains Europe’s main destination for refugees and asylum seekers, and in 2017 it processed more asylum applications than all the other 27 EU countries combined.

Schemes such as the combined effort of many Bundesliga football clubs to offer free German lessons and tickets to games to help new arrivals integrate have been deemed a huge success, and now it seems that airlines are getting in on the act.

Figures released this week have shown that 222 flights by Lufthansa and their subsidiary, Eurowings, didn’t fly due to pilots’ concern for the welfare of individual passengers.

Almost every case revolved around people being returned to Afghanistan which, despite being listed the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees as a “safe country of origin”, is still rife with violence and repression in many parts.

Lufthansa spokesman Michael Lamberty defended staff and crew who refused to fly deportees, saying that security was sometimes a concern.

“The decision not to carry a passenger is ultimately made by the pilot on a case by case basis. If he or she had the impression that flight safety could be affected, he must refuse to transport the passenger”

He also said that pilots often talk personally to those who are being deported. “These people are treated like normal passengers. They have a valid ticket, after all.”

The majority of refusals took place at Frankfurt airport, the country’s biggest hub, as well as 40 at Düsseldorf.

At least one took place in the UK, when a British Airways pilot refused to take off with Afghan citizen Samim Bigzad on board.

Mr. Bigzad had fled the country after he was threatened with murder by the Taliban.

“You’re not going to take him; I’m not flying. A person’s life is at risk” stated the unnamed pilot.

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