Hi Fly: Airline profiting from deportations while owners decry ‘desperate plight of migrants’

9 October 2020 — Corporate Watch

The government’s attempts to hastily expel Channel-crossing migrants on charter flights have gathered pace, with a series of deportations over the last two months.

The Home Office has chartered planes from two companies to force people out of the UK: Titan Airways, who we profiled in 2017, and Hi Fly, a young, Portuguese airline run by brothers Paulo and Carlos Mirpuri.

To support the campaigns currently underway against these deportations, Corporate Watch, in collaboration with Calais Migrant Solidarity, has looked into Hi Fly and found:

  • As well as its recent work for the Home Office, Hi Fly has also operated deportation charter flights from Italy, Belgium and Germany over the past few years.
  • Hi Fly’s main business is leasing out aircraft to airlines and governments. Customers include British Airways, Turkish Airlines and Virgin, as well as the British, French and Belgian governments.
  • While their company makes money from the deportation of refugees, the Mirpuri’s family charity boasts of its support for refugee rights, sponsoring voluntary resettlement programmes and researching the refugee crisis. The Foundation has spoken out explicitly against deportations, especially those to ‘third countries’ – the type of deportations that Hi Fly is currently profiting from.
  • Highly image conscious, the Mirpuris also produce publicity calling for action on the environment, even as they make their money from an industry infamous for its role in climate change.
  • Airlines have previously committed to stop flying deportation flights in response to pressure from campaigners, for example Virgin after pressure from Lesbian and Gays Support the Migrants.

Read the full profile here

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