Ahead of Red Nose Day, queer activist group Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants have criticised British Airways for the hypocrisy of its ‘Flying Start’ programme, which supports Comic Relief, while its controversial Home Office deportation contracts devastate lives. A video released on social media calls on BA bosses to follow the example of Virgin Airlines and end their ‘shameful’ Home Office contracts.

British Airways is under increasing pressure to act as controversy surrounding forced deportations mounts, with the recent trial of the ‘Stansted 15’ activists shining a spotlight on the UK’s ‘hostile environment’ policies. In 2010, Jimmy Mubenga died while being deported on a British Airways flight to Angola, restrained by G4S guards. Fourteen of those deported in the Windrush scandal are also known to have since died. Last year Virgin Airlines ended their deportation contracts with the Home Office, showing that other airlines can follow suit. [3]

Airlines have come under fire recently too from the International Transport Workers’ Federation, who are calling on airlines to end their cooperation with Home Office deportations. In a statement in October, ITF said, "Commercial airlines must take greater responsibility for the safety of their crew and passengers and refuse to assist in forced deportations." A BA cabin crew member was forced to leave the industry due to psychological trauma after witnessing Jimmy Mubenga being “fatally restrained”.[2]

Sam Bjorn a spokesperson for LGSMigrants, says, “It’s totally ludicrous that British Airways bosses claim to care about children and families by supporting Comic Relief, when their deportation contracts are quite literally breaking up families, and sending people to countries they have no connection to, where they face isolation, persecution or even death.

“The British public have learned the true horrors of forced deportations through the revelations of the Windrush scandal. BA bosses should be inspired by their crew’s generosity, and mark their 100th year by ending their deplorable deportation contracts now.”

Notes to editors

For further comment, please contact Sam Björn on


LGSMigrants’ video is at

[1] Statement from ITF, October 2018:

More information in ‘Forced deportations: the role of commercial airlines’, Airport Technology, February 2019


[2] ‘Ex-BA flight attendant sues G4S after witnessing death of Jimmy Mubenga’ The Guardian, April 2015


[3] Virgin Atlantic stops accepting forced deportations, June 2018


Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants are a group of queer activists who stand in solidarity with all migrants and refugees. Through fundraising and creative direct action, they fight back against the hostile environment and reject racist narratives that pit queer communities and migrants against one another. Inspired by the 1980s group Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, made famous by the film Pride, they build on a proud history of queer solidarity to say: no one is illegal. See for more information. Twitter: @lgsmigrants;