Maybe you have looked at the list of charter-deportations we reported on and wondered how do we get this information. This is why we want to explain to you how we use flightradar to track charter-deportations and how you can do this yourself.
The following information is based on our previous research and its interpretation. It may miss some details and change in the future.
– Charter-deportations are special deportation flights, specifically rented for the purpose of deportation. These flights are not visible on airport arrival/departure lists. There are no other passengers on board except people being deported and loads of cops.
– Usually the same charter-planes are rented for deportations: tracking the radar (ADS-B) of certain suspected planes means you can identify charter-deportations. Planes use ADS-B to communicate with each other and airports, but anyone can track those signals.
– Flightradar data is publicly available and can be tracked in real-time.
You can use the following websites:
flightradar24.com -> easy to use and accurate, but free version keeps info for only 7 days.
flightaware.com -> easy to use and pretty accurate. Making a free account unlocks 3 months flight history.
opensky-network.org -> complicated to use, free to access all flight history
globe.adsbexchange.com -> complicated to use and accurate, free to access all flight history
– For Deportation Alarm we track on a daily basis the flightradar of certain “usual suspect” planes:
Corendon Airlines: PH-CDH, PH-CDF, PH-CDE
Enter Air: SP-ENG, SP-ESE, SP-ENP, SP-ENM, SP-ESB, SP-ENU, SP-ENQ, SP-ENL, SP-ENN, SP-ENO, SP-ENR, SP-ENT, SP-ENV, SP-ESH, SP-ENX, SP-ENZ, SP-ESA, SP-ESC, SP-ESD, SP-ESF, SP-ESG
Privilege Style: EC-HDS, EC-ISY, EC-LZO, EC-MUA
Evelop Air: EC-NGY, EC-MTY, EC-LXA, EC-MHL, EC-MII, EC-NBP, EC-NBO, EC-LZD
Air Tanker: G-VYGM, G-VYGJ, G-VYGK, G-VYGL
Bulgaria Air: LZ-SOF, LZ-VAR, LZ-BUR
Sundair: D-ASMR, D-ASSK, D-ASMF, D-ANNA, D-ASEE, D-ASEF, D-ASGK
Alba Star: EC-NLK, EC-MFS, EC-MTV, EC-MUB, EC-NAB, EC-NGC
Georgian Airways: 4L-TGC
Danish Air Transport: OY-RUU
Also, we occasionally check less active ones like Titan Airways and Smartwings (these were more active in Germany in 2019), or Trade Air, Air X, Wamos Air, Smartlynx, Air Serbia, Montenegro Airlines, WDL Aviation, Euroatlantic Airways and HiFly.
– Charter-deportations use the following German airports: Düsseldorf, München, Frankfurt, Berlin, Leipzig-Halle, Köln-Bonn, Karlsruhe Baden-Baden and very rarely Hannover, Stuttgart or Hamburg.
– on flightradar websites, charter-deportations are never listed in advance. They appear only once the plane departs. Hence flightradar tracking cannot be used to know in advance when these flights happen, but we can use pattern recognition to estimate some predictions.
– After a deportation, the plane always returns to its departure point (to drop off the horde of cops). Sometimes Germany works together with other EU countries, mostly Austria. In that case the plane always returns to both departure points afterwards. Exceptions to this are flights by Bulgaria Air and Georgian Airways: for these flights, Germany hires private security guards from the airlines themselves and therefore no German cops need to be brought back afterwards.
– there are no charter-deportations in the weekend.
– charter-deportations mostly arrive at their destination within office/daylight hours (before 18:00), meaning most will leave Germany in the morning (before 13:00 and as early as 04:00) – except in case of far destinations (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq) when the flight mostly leaves Germany between 20:00-23:00 and arrives in the morning. Also here, there are rare exceptions: the 3.3.2021 charter-deportation to Gambia landed in Banjul around 02:00 in the night.
– Charters happen to either one or two destinations at the same time. When two, it is two out of the following countries: Serbia, North-Macedonia, Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Moldova, Armenia or Georgia. And sometimes two out of Nigeria, Ghana or Gambia.
– Certain airports have certain deportation “specialisations”: Berlin to Moldova & Libanon, Köln-Bonn to Guinea, Leipzig-Halle to Tunesia
– Charter-deportations to certain countries often have a monthly pattern, like currently (February 2021) to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Guinea, Gambia, Ghana, Tunesia, Armenia. Others happen multiple times per month (especialy Serbia, North-Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania, Moldova, Georgia).
– In case of morning deportations, the plane that will be used arrives at the airport the night before.
– After deportations to West Africa (Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, Guinea, Senegal), on the return flight the cops make a stopover for a night on the Canary Islands, Cape Verde or Sao Tome. To Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka or Afghanistan, cops stay in Athens for a night on the way back (Frontex-paid cop holiday?).
– Deportation planes usually stay only for an hour in the destination airport(s).
– Some of the usual planes used for charter-deportations, are also doing commercial passenger flights. You can see that flight numbers are differently constructed for commercial routes in comparison to charter flights. Often one number added in comparison for charter flights to commercial flights.
Example: Georgian Airways plane (4L-TGH) -> flight Berlin-Tbilisi (4.11.2020) with flight number A9782 was a commercial flight, but flight Berlin-Tbilisi (17.12.2020) with flight number A92780 was a charter-deportation.
– Most analysis is easy, standard charter-planes do standard routes in standard patterns. But sometimes, there are ones that are hard to call. When we have doubt we do not publish.
Example: Sundair regularly flies from Berlin to Beirut. Berlin has often organised deportation flights to Libanon and sometimes has used Sundair for these. But Sundair does this route almost weekly and we haven’t figured out how to recognise which are deportations and which not. Hence we cannot publish Sundair’s deportations to Libanon.
– there is flux which companies are used. In 2019, Smartwings and Titan Airways did many deportations, but in 2020 a lot less. Corendon Airlines did no deportations in 2019, but in 2020 became the top of the list. We need to keep an eye out on new companies.
– Be aware that not every charter flight has to be a deportation. Keep in mind, it could also be a football team, a business delegation, a group of politicians and journalists or a military flight moving troups and goods. So if you find a flight, you should look for info on sporting events, political meetings, etc.
– yearly freedom of information requests (‚Kleine Anfrage‘) in the German parliament release the official numbers about charter-deportations. It is helpful to look at these lists to recognise patterns. Since 2020, the names of companies used for deportations has been censored.