07. Dezember 2017 · Kommentare deaktiviert für „No, German pilots aren’t defying their government by refusing to deport asylum seekers“ · Kategorien: Deutschland · Tags: ,

The Local | 07.12.2017

On Wednesday UK publication the Independent picked up a story in the German press about pilots refusing to take rejected asylum seekers back to Afghanistan. These rare decisions have nothing to do with the asylum process, though.

Jörg Luyken

Anyone who read the Independent on Wednesday may well have had the impression that German pilots were en masse rebelling against their government’s deportation policies for Afghan asylum seekers.

The newspaper originally ran the story under the headline “Pilots ground 222 flights after refusing to deport asylum seekers” before updating the headline to “Pilots stop 222 asylum seekers being deported from Germany by refusing to fly”.

While the number of 222 is itself correct it comes from a parliamentary question posed by Die Linke in November – there is no evidence that pilots refused to fly.

On November 22nd Die Linke asked the government the following question: “How many attempted deportations had to be cancelled between January 1st and September 30th 2017 because the airlines or pilots refused to transport the person set to be deported?”

The government’s answer stated that a total of 222 deportations failed because the airlines refused to take the person on board.

In other words, during the first nine months of the year pilots refused to allow 222 people to board their planes. There is nothing in the government’s reply which suggests the pilots refused to fly or that the planes did not take off.

One pilot who spoke anonymously to broadcaster RBB on Wednesday explained that the incidents were related to the safety of other passengers and had nothing to do with concerns about the safety of the deportee when they arrive back in their home country.

Pilots are obliged by paragraph 12 of the air security law to ensure safety on board their flight. Therefore, before flights on which deportees are scheduled to fly, the air crew receive a list containing these people’s names.

Pilots meet the deportees in person before boarding and ask whether they want to fly. If a deportee says „no“ and seems to be under pressure, Lufthansa pilots generally refuse to take them, the pilot explained.

“We need to assure that someone doesn’t lose control during a flight. We need to protect our passengers from such a circumstance,” she said.

On the other hand, German residency law dictates that airlines are legally obliged to take all rejected asylum seekers who the government wishes to deport. Pilots who refuse purely on moral grounds would then likely face legal consequences.

“I don’t know of any case in which a pilot refused to take a passenger on moral concerns,” a spokesperson for Lufthansa told RBB. “We are legally obliged to take the passengers – they have valid tickets.“

In fact pilots refusing to let people being deported onto their planes rarely happens. In the same time period that 222 deportees were refused by airlines, 16,700 people were deported through German airports.


Independent | 05.12.2017

„German pilots ground 222 flights after refusing to deport asylum seekers“

Flight crews did not want to help send people back to Afghanistan, local media report

Jon Sharman

German pilots have reportedly grounded more than 200 flights after refusing to be involved in the deportations of failed asylum-seekers.

Flight crews said they did not want to participate in sending people back to Afghanistan, where violence is still rife following years of war and occupation by Western forces.

Between January and September 222 flights were cancelled, according to German government figures, with most – 140 – coming at Frankfurt airport.

German media reported that 85 of the disrupted flights were on Lufthansa and its subsidiary, Eurowings.

Germany has been a popular destination for people arriving from abroad.

Chancellor Angela Merkel adopted a permissive stance to migration at the height of the recent crisis and in 2015, some 1.5 million people entered Germany, of which a third had come from living another EU country.

According to Die Welt, cited by US Today, Germany’s federal office for migration and refugees decided more than 388,000 asylum cases in the first half of this year.

At least one similar refusal is known to have taken place in the UK when British Airways pilot refused to take off while Samim Bigzad was on board earlier this year.

Mr Bigzad, an Afghan, faced deportation to the city where the Taliban had threatened to kill him before the pilot intervened, saying: “You’re not going to take him; I’m not flying. Someone’s life is at risk.”

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