Activists present ‘Worst Airline Award’ to Spanish airline involved in Rwanda deportations

Freedom from Torture hold protest banners in front of the offices of Spanish airline Privilege Style.
Photo Credit: Freedom from Torture

LONDON – British and Spanish activists have presented private Spanish airline Privilege Style with a ‘Worst Airline of the Year Award’ at their headquarters in Palma de Mallorca.

The presentation was in protest at the airline’s involvement in the UK government’s plan to deport refugees and asylum seekers to Rwanda, including survivors of torture.

The activists, from the organisation Freedom from Torture, were accompanied by a live band as they attempted to deliver the word in front of journalists from Spanish television networks.

Representatives of the airline refused to accept the award, which depicted an aeroplane crashing into a pile of faeces and bore the slogan ‘Privilege Style: Worst Airline of the Year.’

Photo Credit: Freedom from Torture

Privilege Style is a private airline which operates charter flights on behalf of other airlines, tour operators, sports teams and other VIP customers.

According to the airline, its clients include several Spanish companies and top Spanish football clubs, including Real Madrid, Barcelona and the Spanish national team.

The airline has become known as the UK government’s ‘airline of last resort’ for their willingness to conduct deportation flights that other airlines refuse.

Freedom from Torture statement

Agustina Oliveri, Senior Digital Campaigns Officer at Freedom from Torture, said: “Airlines are meant to bring people together, but Privilege Style’s role in the UK government’s cruel Rwanda plan will ruin lives and tear families apart.”

“That’s why every airline except Privilege Style has ruled themselves out of this ‘cash-for-humans’ scheme.

“We’re here on behalf of tens of thousands of caring people across Europe to let Privilege Style know that we won’t stand by as they profit from the pain of refugees.”

“We hope that this award will encourage them to stop flying in the face of human decency by terminating their contract with the UK government.”

First deportation flight grounded

In June, Privilege Style’s first flight carrying refugees to Rwanda was grounded by a last-minute ruling from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Shortly before the ECHR decision, torture survivor Kolbassia Haoussou was ejected from Privilege Style’s Mallorca headquarters after confronting the airline over their involvement in the scheme.

The airline also received over 10,000 emails from members of the public calling on them to cut ties with the UK government. 

Freedom from Torture activists protest outside the offices of Spanish airline Privilege Style

Photo Credits: Freedom from Torture

Kolbassia Haoussou, Director of Survivor Empowerment at Freedom from Torture, said: “When I fled torture and persecution in Central Africa, I was granted to sanctuary in Europe and was able to rebuild my life.”

“I am appalled that an airline that counts cultural icons like Real Madrid and Barcelona among its clients is profiting by denying people like me safety and protection. All companies have a duty to ensure their business practices do not violate human rights. We are calling on all of Privilege Style’s customers to boycott the airline until they end their involvement in the UK’s inhumane ‘cash-for-humans’ scheme.”

Last month, a detailed clinical review by the charity Medical Justice has found that many asylum seekers threatened with removal to Rwanda may have been tortured or trafficked into the UK.

The charity was joined by the British Medical Association, Freedom from Torture, and other medical charities in calling on the Prime Minister to abandon the Rwanda policy. 

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