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Rwanda's National Carrier Declines UK Proposal for Migrant Removal Flights, Citing Brand Concerns

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louis Buyisiwe

Apr 11, 2024

The decision by RwandAir underscores the sensitivities

In an unexpected twist, the UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD) emerges as a pivotal participant in the asylum program. This partnership raises the possibility of utilizing military aircraft for deportations if commercial agreements falter. The Home Office, maintaining confidentiality regarding specific partnerships, acknowledges the MoD's significant role in the logistical aspects of migrant removals.
Rwanda air staff

In a move highlighting the complexities of international asylum agreements, RwandAir, the national airline of Rwanda, has rejected an offer from the United Kingdom to conduct flights aimed at removing migrants under a new asylum deal. This decision was made amidst apprehensions that participating in such an operation might tarnish the airline's reputation.

Despite this setback, the refusal by the airline, a state-owned entity of Rwanda, has not hindered the progression of the UK's asylum strategy.


The UK government's approach involves a comprehensive plan to manage irregular migration, with the anticipated "Safety of Rwanda Bill" playing a central role.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has expressed confidence in the bill's ability to address legal challenges and facilitate the commencement of removal flights. Expected to receive final endorsement shortly, this legislation paves the way for a collaborative framework involving multiple operators for the execution of removal flights.


In an unexpected twist, the UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD) emerges as a pivotal participant in the asylum program. This partnership raises the possibility of utilizing military aircraft for deportations if commercial agreements falter.

The Home Office, maintaining confidentiality regarding specific partnerships, acknowledges the MoD's significant role in the logistical aspects of migrant removals.


The decision by RwandAir underscores the sensitivities and potential repercussions for carriers involved in such operations. Previous instances, such as the withdrawal of Mallorca-based Privilege Style from a similar agreement due to activist pressure, illustrate the challenges faced by airlines in balancing business operations with socio-political considerations.


With the first removal flights to Rwanda anticipated in the coming months, the UK government may have to rely on its military resources as a contingency plan.

This development emphasizes the multifaceted nature of implementing asylum policies, involving not just legal and political dimensions, but also the engagement of various stakeholders, including commercial and military aviation sectors.

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