Austrian company offers to remove UK's 'disruptive' migrants in adapted aircraft

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Indy Politics

A company specialising in removing failed asylum-seekers is to approach the Government with plans to use specially adapted aircraft to deport hundreds of "disruptive" refugees.

Asylum Airways, run by an Austrian aviation consultant with ties to British security firms, will operate aircraft for European countries which do not wish to use established airlines for the forced removal of asylum-seekers.

The planes will have specially designed seats so that the "passengers" can be strapped down and restrained by guards. A deal could save the Government millions of pounds compared with the piecemeal contracts it has negotiated with dozens of airlines as well as reduce the number of aborted deportations.

Hundreds of asylum-seeker removals have had to be aborted in the past two years because of what the Home Office describes as "disruptive behaviour".

And in the past few months airlines have been criticised for carrying failed asylum-seekers, many of whom allege they have been physically and racially abused by private security guards paid to escort them.

Earlier this year XL airlines announced that it would no longer work with the Home Office in removing failed asylum-seekers. But British Airways and others argue that they have a legal duty to take asylum-seekers on their aircraft.

Heinz Berger, who has set up the Asylum Airlines company and has worked with British companies providing security at British airports, says that he is still involved with the "bureaucracy" of the scheme but has identified Britain as a key market for his service.

Mr Berger said that Britain was on a list of countries with whom he was seeking to do business. He said there was "ongoing interest all over Europe" for an airline that will organise flights around Europe, picking up failed asylum-seekers from various countries and then flying them back to their home nations around Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

A special feature will be bespoke aircraft with padded rooms and restraining equipment.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that the removal of hundreds of asylum-seekers each year has to be cancelled because of "disruptive behaviour". But this can include medical problems as well as complaints from passengers.

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said that while the Government was "open to new ideas" she said the present arrangements were working "pretty well".