The Mail reports that the agency spent £9million this year chartering 37 flights, equating to £250,000 per plane. Some flights are leaving nearly empty after last-minute appeals from those facing deportation.
The UK Border Agency (UKBA) is spending millions of pounds deporting failed asylum seekers on near empty chartered flights, the Daily Mail reports today.
Britain has spent £133million in the last five years, or an average of £5,000, sending each person back to their home country, according to information released under a Freedom of Information request.
But the figures released to the Sunday Express show that many of the planes are leaving more than half empty due to last-minute appeals by those trying to stay in UK.
And some flights are left deliberately unfilled because the UK has arrangements with host countries not to send too many people back in one go, it is claimed.
Under strict regulations those facing deportation must be given 72 hours notice – enough time to launch a legal challenge and delay their expulsion.
On some flights, staff on the plane outnumbered those being deported by more than three to one.
During the last 12 months the agency has spent £9million chartering 37 flights, equating to £250,000 per plane.
In November, last year, a flight destined for Ghana had 233 seats, but returned only 23 people and had 58 staff aboard.
In December, last year, another plane heading to Afghanistan returned only 59 people but required 115 staff aboard who occupied most of the 224 available seats.
The TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘These flights come at a huge cost to British taxpayers so they have to be planned far more carefully.
‘Last minute appeals will happen but the bill for hard-pressed families is enormous and the more money saved the better.
‘Any international agreements that throw up more red tape just cost taxpayers more of their hard-earned cash and have to be reviewed.’
The cost of air deportations has increased by more than 40 per cent over the years.
A spokesman for the UK Border Agency said: ‘It is right those with no right to be here should go home and these flights still represent a cost effective way of removing in volume.
‘The increased expenditure on charter flights reflects the general rise in the cost of air travel and the fact that our charters operate almost exclusively to long-haul destinations.’
Earlier this month it was revealed border chiefs are struggling with an enormous backlog of 276,000 immigration cases.
The growing total includes asylum seekers, foreign criminals and illegal migrants and is equivalent to the population of Newcastle.
MPs on the Commons Home Affairs Committee said the UK had become a ‘Bermuda Triangle’ for migrants, a country where it is ‘easy to get in, but impossible to keep track of anyone, let alone get them out’.
Some 21,000 new asylum cases have built up because officials were able to process only 63 per cent of last year’s applications.
In addition, there are 150,000 legal immigrants who came as students and workers but whose visas have since expired. This figure is rising by 100 every day.
The UK Border Agency does not know if these immigrants are still here, despite the fact they have no right to stay.
Forty per cent of this group had never been sent a letter telling them to leave the country, as all those with expired visas should.
Tens of thousands of these lapsed visa cases date back more than five years and are a legacy of Labour’s catastrophic mismanagement of Britain’s immigration system.
There are also 3,900 foreign criminals living in the community and free to commit more crimes, including more than 800 who have been at large for five years or more.
On top of this, another 101,000 asylum and immigration cases remain from the backlog of more than 450,000 found lying around in officials’ cupboards and drawers six years ago. Source: Daily Mail.
The above figures do not include the costs of appeals against refusals and deportations, which run into millions.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) claimed it would cost £4.7 billion and take 20 years to find and remove all of the illegal immigrants in the UK.
This figure is bound to increase following changes to the 14 year rule amnesty and rules on visa overstayers.
Immigration Advisers Bison Management has dealt with many cases of migrants who have overstayed their visa period. Immigration Adviser Cynthia Barker said:
‘Overstaying applicants are normally automatically refused unless there is a strong case for a human rights appeal or for instance where they are in a relationship or have a child with British or EEA national’.
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