Students to protest against Virgin Atlantic CEO over deportation flights

They hope ‘to shine a light on the darker side’ of the company

UCL Workers’ Liberty is demonstrating tomorrow at 5.30pm outside the UCL Students' Union against the CEO of Virgin Atlantic, Craig Kreeger. Kreeger will be speaking to UCL Business Society (UCL BizSoc) on Monday evening about his career and Virgin Atlantic’s role in the world economy.

At their protest tomorrow, the UCL Workers’ Liberty hope “to shine a light on the darker side of [Virgin Atlantic]”.

The protest is against Virgin Atlantic’s acceptance of Government contracts for deportation flights. People who have been deemed illegal by the Home office are returned to their home country (often Nigeria) on Virgin Atlantic flights.

UCL Workers’ Liberty says that this process “tear[s] families apart, uproot people who have called this country home since they were children, and have even sent asylum seekers back to countries where they are at risk of repression, violence and death.”

Virgin Atlantic has come under criticism for this practice in a number of cases. In May 2014, Afusat Saliu personally asked Richard Branson, the owner of Virgin Atlantic, to prevent her deportation after she learned that she would be returned to Nigeria on a Virgin Atlantic flight. She stated that if she and her daughters were returned they would be at risk of FGM (Female Gentile Mutilation).

In another incident in 2010, two SOAS students were removed from a Virgin Atlantic flight after they voiced concerns about how a man was being “violently” deported on their flight.  In response to the incident Virgin Atlantic stated that "The Home Office makes the flight and security arrangements for all deportee passengers. It is not for the airline to refuse to carry a deportee passenger on the grounds of their immigration case as the airline has no knowledge of individual cases.”

In addition to deporting people on commercial flights the Home Office also regularly charters planes to deport 80-100 people at a time back to their own countries. Often commercial airlines do not fly frequently to the destinations as they are deemed to be “unstable”.

For more information about the protest, check out UCL Workers’ Liberty's Facebook event.