A flight attendant working for Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has reportedly gone missing after a layover in Toronto, Canada.
Pakistani media outlet ARY News reported that Ayaz Qureshi, a male flight attendant, worked on a flight from Islamabad International Airport (ISB) to Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ).
However, Qureshi did not show up for the flight’s scheduled return to Islamabad and could not be found. The flight had to return with one less cabin crew member on duty.
Third in less than a month
Qureshi is the third flight attendant from the Pakistani flag carrier to have vanished after a flight to Canada.
On November 13, 2023, two flight attendants who arrived in Toronto after working on flight PK 772 from Islamabad did not show up for the return flight to Pakistan.
The same incident occurred in October 2022. ARY News said that at least a dozen flight attendants from PIA have disappeared on flights to Canada and Europe over the last decade.
To prevent further cases, PIA reportedly implemented stricter measures on flights to Canada and Europe.
Canada’s National Post said the airline had set an age limit for flight attendants to work on those routes. PIA will now only allow those who are aged 50 and above to be rostered on those flights, on the assumption that younger cabin crew are more likely to pull a disappearing act.
The airline will also carry out more frequent checks and improve communication with staff during layovers.
Canada to blame?
Addressing the case of disappearing employees, PIA spokesperson Abdullah Khan told Arab News that the Canadian government’s “liberal” asylum program is to blame.
“The reason for this is an overly liberal asylum and asylum program by the Canadian government,” Khan said. “We normally terminate the services of such individuals and penalize them by denying them of any benefits.”
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a person can claim asylum at a Canadian airport.
According to the UNHCR, to gain refugee protection in Canada, a person needs to show that they cannot return to their country of nationality or residence because they fear persecution for at least one of the following reasons:
- Race or nationality
- Member of a particular social group
- Political opinion
- Risk to your life or cruel and inhuman treatment
- Risk of torture