Up to 27 million people globally are victims of human trafficking, a form of modern slavery, whereby people are moved within a country or across borders. Victims are forced into exploitation through force, threats, abduction, or deception and rather than lurking in the shadows, perpetrators have increasingly turned to trafficking their victims on commercial flights.
It’s a problem that airlines are increasingly aware of but there are still plenty of misconceptions about human trafficking and little awareness amongst the general public. Emirates, however, wants to educate and clear up those misconceptions with a short awareness film starring Liam Neeson that will be played on all of its flights.
“Emirates hopes to shine a light on this global problem and help more people understand what human trafficking is,” the airline said in a statement on Wednesday. “With greater awareness, more suspected cases can be identified and reported, thereby protecting and preventing those at risk from becoming victims.”
In collaboration with the non-governmental organisation, It’s a Penalty, the airline will show the 30-second awareness film through the month of October. Emirates says it is committed to playing its part in disrupting the fastest-growing and second-largest criminal industry in the world.
Since 2017, Emirates cabin crew and other frontline staffers have been required to undertake e-learning that covers a variety of onboard criminal activity including human trafficking. A team of aviation security personnel at the airline’s Dubai hub have also received enhanced training on how to spot potential human traffickers including profiling and behavioural analysis.
Like many airlines, Emirates has an anti-slavery and human trafficking policy and works with industry partners to combat the crime. Far from fighting the crime alone, some airlines have gone even further to fight the scrouge of human trafficking.
In the U.S., Delta Air Lines has become a prominent supporter of anti-exploitation legislation. In 2011, the airline became the first and only U.S. carrier to sign a Code of Conduct outlined by End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking.
A year later, Delta was one of the 12 founding companies of the Global Business Coalition against Human Trafficking in 2012. So far, over 86,000 Delta staffers have received training to identify and report human trafficking.
Last January, Delta also aired its own human trafficking awareness video to help educate its passengers. While airlines might be operating only a fraction of their pre-pandemic schedules, there’s little doubt that criminals are still using commercial airlines to exploit victims – 75 per cent of whom are women and children.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.