Earlier this month, it was reported that Delta Air Lines became the first U.S. airline to sign on to the Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism (The Code), pledging to train employees to identify and report potential instances of human trafficking—and also educate travelers about modern-day slavery through their in-flight magazine and website.
At a conference on modern-day slavery in the Vatican last week, U.S. Congressman Chris Smith (R–NJ) made note of Delta Air Lines’ groundbreaking efforts. Smith has long been a supporter of anti-slavery efforts. Last July, he took part in a Capitol Hill briefing on how airlines can work to help stop human trafficking, in which he said, “It has come to my attention that U.S. airlines are being exploited as trafficking routes into the United States. Women and children are being transported to lives of slavery in broad daylight, shrouded only by the lack of awareness or inaction of these around them.” Read Smith’s full letter here (PDF)
Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, head of the U.S. State Department’s human trafficking office was also in attendance at last week’s Vatican conference. He reaffirmed the importance of businesses—such as major airlines—incorporating human trafficking awareness and prevention techniques into their staff training programs. The Ambassador said, “It will take private-sector corporations collaborating with countries across regions to … figure out where trafficking exists and how to fight it.”
UN-affiliated NGO Airline Ambassadors International (AAI)—in collaboration with anti-slavery group Innocents at Risk—has also taken action to bring airlines into the anti-slavery movement. They created a training program to educate airline professionals to spot signs of human trafficking. AAI President Nancy Rivard says that airline workers are in a unique position to monitor and thwart trafficking as it happens.”Flight attendants and pilots can play a key role as eyes and ears for international security efforts,” she says. she has called for all U.S. airlines to incorporate human trafficking prevention into their staff safety training, and to make the human trafficking hotline available to passengers.