AirAsia trains staff to look out for human traffickers


Flight attendant demonstrates safety procedures before take-off. Source: Shutterstock/ThamKC

AIRASIA, Asia’s biggest budget airline, is doing its part in the fight against human trafficking by training thousands of cabin crew and staff to spot traffickers on planes, Reuters reported.

Many criminal gangs transport thousands of victims including children via planes each year to be redeployed as sex workers, domestic workers, or used in forced labor.

The United Nations has urged airlines to aid in the crackdown of traffickers, and AirAsia is one of the first airlines in the continent to join in on the cause.

“We like to be able to have our staff know what to do if somebody comes up to them and says ‘I need help’”, Yap Mun Ching, executive director of AirAsia Foundation, the airline’s philanthropic arm driving the initiative, told Reuters.

“Sometimes (the victims) don’t know they have been trafficked. They realize it only when they are on their way and they want to be able to get help. Most of the time they don’t know who to turn to.”

For the initiative, AirAsia joined forces with US-based Airline Ambassadors International (AAI), a group that trains airline staff on trafficking. The program is being kicked off this week across four of the carrier’s hubs, all of which are trafficking hotspots: Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Jakarta and Manila.

According to AAI, some of the signs shown by victims include young women or children who seem to be under the control of others, or who appear to be apprehensive or nervous.

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The group has identified and rescued many victims and works with Customs Border Protection to develop industry-specific training for airlines.

Additional reporting by Reuters