StopTUI Campaign Success
In early 2021, a campaign was launched by a coalition of groups, coordinated by SOAS Detainee Support (SDS), targeting the airline and holiday company TUI. The campaign’s goal was to end TUI’s complicity in the Home Office’s Hostile Environment. For around two years, TUI was the main airline flying mass deportation charter flights. They ran nine in November 2020 alone, and were responsible for many hundreds of deportations. For more about TUI and their role in the Hostile Environment, see here.
All deportations are racist, violent and wrong. No private organisations should be profiteering from the Home Office’s brutal deportation regime, and it is particularly shameful for a business to do so whilst selling itself as family-friendly and inclusive. The tragedy of the violence TUI engaged in is compounded by the harrowing treatment of many deportees, frequently mistreated and abused.
TUI gained significant financial benefits from running these deportation flights. Some seats on their charters earnt them upwards of £10,000. Whilst running flights that tore people from their homes and families, TUI also drastically cut their workforce, laying off tens of thousands of workers. All this whilst receiving massive bailouts from the German government and paying their top execs salaries in the millions.
Throughout our campaigning, we coordinated a range of actions targeting TUI airways, both in person and offline. In August we arranged a national day of action, mobilising activists and shutting down TUI stores in 10 cities simultaneously. In September, we held a massive demonstration. Following these actions, we received word through back channels that TUI had pulled out of their agreement with the government.
We have requested statements from TUI explaining the reason for the halt in their engagement with the Home Office’s deportation regime. They have consistently declined to comment on this, and as we are committed to protecting our sources, we were unable to corroborate in the press. However, it has now been almost six months since TUI has run a flight whilst previously they were weekly. We are happy to announce the success of the campaign.
Whilst the absence of a statement from TUI is obviously disappointing, it further solidifies what we already knew about TUI. Their care for their brand’s image far exceeds their care for any individual, and for expressions of remorse. We continue to urge TUI to publicly state their regret for running charter deportations, to distance themselves from the Home Office, and to make a firm commitment that they will not become re-involved in the future. We have won our primary demand, but are not ruling out further actions against TUI.
This is a victory gained against the combined might of the Home Office and a billion-pound international company, by a grassroots coalition with few resources. The response to the campaign was overwhelmingly supportive from organisations, activists, politicians and members of the public, and we were blown away by how quickly it grew.
We have clearly shown that huge swathes of the population oppose the Hostile Environment. When our communities are attacked, we stand up and fight back.
We have sent a message loud and clear to any complicit in mistreating and demonising migrants. Businesses cannot quietly support the Home Office’s brutal regime without their operations suffering.
For comment, or to get involved in campaigning and to work in solidarity, not charity, with those impacted by the Hostile Environment, get in touch with one of the groups that led this campaign: