220+ flights canceled as German pilots refuse to deport rejected asylum seekers
A freedom of information request revealed that some 222 flights scheduled to repatriate rejected asylum seekers back to their countries of origin were forced to be canceled over the course of 2017. Deutsche Welle reports that 140 of the canceled flights were to take off from Frankfurt Airport, which is the largest in the country. Dusseldorf Airport, where activist groups regularly hold demonstrations against deportations, saw 40 flights canceled.
According to Lufthansa, however, its staff view deportees as regular passengers, and any flight cancellations are made “on a case by case basis” and only due to “security reasons.”
“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,” spokesman Michael Lamberty was quoted by the Westdeutsche Allgeimeine Zeitung as saying. “Should security personnel at the airports have some sort of information in advance which indicates that a situation could escalate during a deportation, they can decide ahead of time not to let the passengers board.”
Despite a recent increase in deportations, Germany remains by far the most popular destination in the European Union for refugees and migrants. In 2017, it processed more asylum applications than all other EU countries combined.
The most recent statistics from the immigration office reveal Germany has accepted nearly 170,000 asylum seekers this year. It has also rejected approximately 210,000, however nearly half of those decisions have been appealed and about 25 percent of them have been overturned.
In order to reduce the number of appeals and speed up the deportations the German Interior Ministry has started offering rejected asylum seekers up to €3,000 (US$3,550) to return to their countries of origin.
The new program, dubbed ‘Your country. Your future. Now!’ promises generous payouts to those who decide to return voluntarily. Families are eligible for up to €3,000 and individuals for up to €1,000.