Pilots across Germany are stopping planned deportations of rejected asylum seekers. At the same time, refugees are appealing their deportation orders in record numbers – and winning. Following an information request from the Left party, the government said that 222 planned flights were stopped by pilots who wanted no part in the controversial return of refugees to Afghanistan, which has been deemed a “safe country of origin” in some cases, despite ongoing violence and repression in parts of the country.
Some 85 of the refusals between January and September 2017 came from Germany’s main airline Lufthansa and its subsidiary Eurowings. About 40 took place at Dusseldorf airport, where the controversial deportations are routinely accompanied by protesters on the tarmac. The majority of the canceled flights, around 140, took place at Frankfurt Airport, Germany’s largest and most important hub.
Lufthansa spokesman Michael Lamberty defended personnel who chose not to fly deported people back to their countries of origin, saying that sometimes security was 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,” Lamberty was quoted by the Westdeutsche Allegeimeine Zeitung as saying.