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Another Pakistani flight attendant slips away in Canada, second incident in a week

Jibran Baloch, a Pakistan International Airlines flight steward, vanished after flight PK-782 landed in Canada's Toronto on Thursday. This is the second in a week after air hostess Maryam Raza disappeared in Canada, adding to a string of similar incidents that has Pakistani authorities worried.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Islamabad Published on: March 02, 2024 12:51 IST
PIA, Pakistani flight attendant vanishes, Canada
Image Source : REPRESENTATIVE IMAGE Pakistan International Airlines (PIA)

Islamabad: A male Pakistani flight attendant slipped away after his flight landed in the Canadian city of Toronto, according to media reports, marking the second such incident in a week after a cabin crew member of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) vanished in Toronto. The steward was identified as Jibran Baloch, who failed to show up on the return flight to Pakistan.

Baloch, a PIA flight steward performed duties on the PIA flight PK-782 on Thursday. After his disappearance, the PIA staff searched his hotel room and confirmed that he had slipped away. An airline spokesperson also confirmed the incident despite measures taken to stop the string of incidents of flight crew members disappearing in Canada, according to Geo News.

The PIA sources said submission of flight staff’s passports to the officials also did not bear fruit. The airline officials are now working in coordination with the Toronto police to stop the process of its crew members missing in Canada. About 10 flight attendants posted on Toronto-bound flights have slipped away in two years. 

'Thank you PIA': Airhostess before disappearing in Canada

Baloch was the second flight attendant to have gone missing in Canada in one week after Maryam Raza, who joined the PIA 15 years ago, failed to report for duty on the return flight to Karachi, according to Dawn. Raza arrived in Toronto on PIA flight PK-782 from Islamabad on Monday but did not show up on the return flight PK-784 to Karachi. When the authorities opened her hotel room, they found her uniform with a note reading ‘Thank you, PIA’.

Another stewardess, Faiza Mukhtar, vanished after her flight landed in Canada in January this year. On its scheduled return to the country, Ms Mukhtar did not turn up [in Toronto] and the flight of the national flag carrier had to proceed without her,” said a PIA official. The attendant was suspended a few years ago for her alleged involvement in smuggling mobile phones and foreign currency.

Officials believe the disappearances are linked to Canada's flexible immigration system, which offers asylum to anyone entering the country. At least seven PIA cabin crew members went missing in Canada while performing flight duties last year. PIA's spokesperson said one of the crew members who slipped away while on duty some years ago has now settled in Canada and 'advises' other crew members considering seeking asylum there.

PIA's growing problems

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has been running into loss for years and the caretakers just two days before elections decided to bifurcate it into two entities, according to a statement issued after the cabinet meeting held last month.  Experts believe the low salaries of crew and concerns over PIA's future, are prompting the crew members to escape after landing in Canada, rather than coming back home.

A flight attendant identified only as Mahira disappeared after landing in Toronto in 2018. She now lives in Canada and provided legal assistance to Faiza Mukhtar when she applied for asylum, according to media reports. The growing number of crew disappearances represents a significant downfall of the once-celebrated airline plagued by financial challenges, governance issues and controversies.

(with PTI inputs)

ALSO READ | 'Thank you PIA': Pakistani airline crew member 'vanishes' in Canada, second incident this year

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