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The UK is spending millions on private jets to deport asylum seekers

A passenger plane flies through aircraft contrails in the skies near Heathrow Airport in west London, April
Reuters/Toby Melville
Expensive exit.
  • Cassie Werber
By Cassie Werber

Cassie writes about the world of work.

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

The British government uses privately charted planes to deport small groups of people whose claims for asylum have failed, spending millions of pounds in the process, according to data acquired using a freedom of information request.

The Home Office, which is responsible for decisions on asylum in the UK, spent £14 million ($21.6 million) on chartered planes in the 18 months to June 2015, the Guardian reported. Many of the chartered flights carried only a couple of dozen people onboard, and flew from the UK to countries including Afghanistan, Albania, and Morocco.

One flight in August, 2015, carried just one passenger, a convicted cyberterrorist, aboard.

The cost of deporting people this way is not only high, but rising, according to Corporate Watch, a non-governmental organization. It found that the cost of private plane used for deportation rose from around £69,000 in 2003 to almost £220,000 over the same period (from about $100,000 to $340,000).

One reason that the planes are often not full is that asylum seekers are able to lodge appeals up to the last minute. The Home Office has said it is cracking down on that provision: “Although last-minute legal challenges can delay some removals, this government has legislated to make it harder for people to lodge spurious appeals,” and are planning to legislate further, the Home Office told the Guardian.

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