Ryanair faces boycott over Rwanda flight controversy

Ryanair faces boycott over Rwanda flight controversy

UK parliament passes Rwanda asylum law as Sunak vows flights will start in weeks

FMM - F24 Video Clips / VideoElephant

Ryanair has faced calls for a boycott before (when the Irish company trolled the England World Cup team after their defeat to France in 2022, to the fury of some football fans), but now social media users are vowing never to use the airline again over its CEO’s comments about planned deportation flights to Rwanda.

In a speech delivered on Monday, before the Safety of Rwanda Bill eventually passed through parliament, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed an airfield is “on standby” and the government has “booked commercial charter planes for specific slots” to start deporting asylum seekers to the African country.

“The first flight will leave in 10 to 12 weeks,” he said.

Now, in an interview with Bloomberg UK, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary, who made headlines in September when he was pied in the face by climate protesters outside the European Commission in Brussels, has said that while the UK government hasn’t approached the company to carry out the flights, he would “happily” do them if he had the resources to do so.

He told the outlet: “If it was the winter schedule and we had spare aircraft sitting around and if the government were looking for additional deportation flights or any other flights, we would happily quote for the business.”

The Rwanda policy has faced criticism and condemnation ever since it was first proposed, with human rights groups arguing it will place asylum seekers at “risk of an unsafe future”, and the Supreme Court previously finding the plan unlawful.

The government’s Safety of Rwanda Bill – set to receive Royal Assent and become an Act on Thursday – insists Rwanda is a safe country, and disapplies sections of the Human Rights Act of 1998.

It’s even prefaced by a statement from James Cleverly, the home secretary, in which he concedes he is “unable to make a statement that, in my view, the provisions of the [bill] are compatible” with the European Convention on Human Rights, but wants parliament to pass the proposed legislation anyway.

And so, Ryanair hinting that they would offer a helping hand if they were able to has left people furious:

It is not clear which company will carry out the next deportation flight (an initial attempt back in June 2022 was called off following a last-minute intervention from the European Court of Human Rights), with Sunak remaining tight-lipped on “sensitive operational detail” to avoid any disruption from a “loud minority who will do anything to disrupt our plan”.

indy100 has contacted Ryanair for comment.

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