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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 July 2007, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
Plea to Air France over deportees
Air France jets
Air France staff say they are upset by the deportations
French trade unions have urged Air France to stop using its planes to deport illegal immigrants.

The appeal was made to the airline's shareholders at their annual general meeting in Paris.

The unions say some of their members have been traumatised by witnessing the handling of failed asylum seekers forcibly sent home on Air France jets.

The immigration minister said 6,000 people were deported in January-May, 2,200 of them under police escort.

Brice Hortefeux said only 4.6% of those cases had posed problems.

The president of the French League of Human Rights, Jean Pierre Dubois, told the BBC's Newshour programme that Air France carried more deportees than any of its European counterparts.

"Air France is becoming the number one. I don't think any kind of aircraft company in Europe has accepted such a huge amount of expulsions on their commercial flights. But I think Air France is really now becoming a kind of leader on that issue," he said.

The BBC's Emma Jane Kirby in Paris says several flights have had to be cancelled in recent months because of problems concerning deportees.

Sometimes deportees are handcuffed by police and forcibly restrained.

The union's call to end the deportation flights comes as President Nicolas Sarkozy plans to crack down hard on illegal immigration. He wants to expel more than 25,000 failed asylum seekers from France this year.


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