HALF-EMPTY private jets paid for by taxpayers are deporting illegal immigrants and foreign offender.
Thirty-five aircraft hired by the Home Office flew around 1,500 people back home to countries such as Pakistan, Jamaica, Nigeria and Ghana.
One flight to Pakistan filled just 29 deportees and 62 staff leaving 177 seats empty.
A trip to Jamaica, codenamed Waldrop, saw 42 returnees looked after by a total of 138 staff.
And just 111 seats were taken, including just 36 returnees, on a journey to Albania.
The revelation, which accounts for private flights for 2016, comes after the Home Office annual report last year showed £2.1 million was wasted on flight costs.
Ministers incurred the costs as a result of cancelling tickets after asylum seekers had been granted the right to appeal.
It has previously been revealed that one flight costing an estimated £250,000 took home just one Moroccan.
John O’Connell, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “Taxpayers will be bewildered at the cost of these deportations.
“It doesn’t seem sensible for the Government to pay more money for foreign criminals to travel home on private jets when commercial flights are available for many of these journeys.
“The system for removing offenders must be dramatically improved and cheaper alternatives pursued wherever possible.”
Tory MP Philip Hollobone last night said: “Most people will struggle to understand why private jets are needed to return these people. A clear explanation is needed that money is being spent wisely.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The majority of enforced immigration returns are undertaken using scheduled flights.
“Charter flights are used where there are limited scheduled routes or where there could potentially be more disruptive immigration offenders.
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“In total, almost 38,000 illegal migrants either voluntarily returned or were subject to an enforced return in 2016/17.
“This includes 6,300 foreign national offenders (FNOs), the highest number ever.
“When chartering a flight we consider how much space is safely needed and we always seek to maximise capacity of the flight.”