A Dakar bound plane had to be delayed by two-and-a-half hours at Barcelona–El Prat Airport after passengers staged a protest – blocking the plane’s aisle – in attempts to stop the deportation of a Senegalese man on Saturday.
Spanish media report that the sympathy protest began after the handcuffed Senegalese man, escorted by two border guards, complained loudly about being deported.
Police had to be called to intervene before the flight could take off. All the passengers were ordered off the plane before being allowed back on.
11 protesters were however not allowed back on, and could be fined up to €225,000.
A clip that circulated on social media showed several passengers blocking the aisle of the plane. The clip was accompanied by a message that said; “We have succeeded! Flight of deportation stopped. Now the authorities are coming to take the person away! Solidarity is our best weapon!”
The incident prompted anti-deportation activists to rally at Seville airport on Sunday. The activists, from the group Caravana Abriendo Fronteras (Open Borders Caravan), staged a noisy protest in the airport terminal.
The protest meant that the Vueling plane’s return flight had to be postponed to Sunday, forcing Vueling to pay for the overnight accommodation of 176 passengers.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the number of migrants arriving in Spain has increased this year, compared to the same period last year.
6,973 migrants have arrived in Spain by sea as of July 11, compared to 2,476 in the first half of last year.