Germany could use army transport planes to deport asylum seekers who have had their applications rejected to ease a mounting refugee crisis, the government said on Wednesday.
Chancellor Angela Merkel is under growing pressure over her handling of the crisis, with her popular support waning and some in her conservative party wanting upper limits on migrants.
Her government has long said it wants to speed up the processing of asylum applications and that anyone who is rejected must leave, but there is a big backlog in deportations.
"If (economic grounds) is the only reason for being here, then we will have to say more strongly to these people: you must go home," Merkel said at IG Metall union event in Frankfurt.
The government has discussed a range of options, including using army transporters to help deport people, not telling individuals in advance that they would be sent home and tightening up rules that let some failed asylum seekers stay.
"Sending people back on commercial airlines takes priority but if there is insufficient capacity then ... we will consider making use of military aircraft," government spokesman Steffen Seibert told a government news conference.
Germany is struggling to cope with an influx of about 10,000 migrants a day and expects at least a total of 800,000 this year.
An Allensbach poll published on Wednesday showed that 54 percent of those asked were very worried about the refugee situation in Germany, up from 40 percent in August.
The number of new asylum applications far outnumbers deportations. By the end of September, about 193,000 people were registered as having no valid reason to claim asylum, of which more than 140,000 were granted "exceptional leave to stay," an interior ministry spokesman said.
Government figures show that although many of those arriving in Germany are fleeing war in the Middle East, at least a third are economic migrants from Balkans countries who can have little hope of staying legally.
Polls show that support for both Merkel and her party has slipped in the last few weeks, but 82 percent of her Christian Democrat (CDU) party members are happy with her as their party leader, an Allensbach survey released on Wednesday said.
The Forsa poll also showed 81 percent wanted her to run as chancellor for the fourth time in 2017 elections.