Flight Attendants and Lawmakers Call Attention to DOT/DHS Initiative to End Human Trafficking

For Immediate Release: June 5, 2015 Contact: Molly Sheerer 202-550-5520

Washington, DC (June 5, 2015) – Tomorrow marks the two-year anniversary of the Blue Lightning Initiative launched by the Department of Transportation and Department of Homeland Security and managed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The Blue Lightning Initiative enlists workers in all modes of transportation to take part in a national effort to uncover modern day slavery, bring victims to safety, and apprehend offenders.

“As aviation’s first responders, we are charged with the safety, health and security of the passengers in our care. Traffickers steal lives. But for a window of time, we can see it, report it and law enforcement can bring justice,” said Sara Nelson, International President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA). “We need all of our airlines participating in Blue Lightning.”

AFA is the world’s largest flight attendant union, representing 50,000 Flight Attendants from 18 airlines.

“Combating human-trafficking and helping victims to safety is a concerted effort of law enforcement along with their partners on the frontlines of our transportation sectors and in our communities. The success of DOT’s Blue Lightning Initiative is directly related to the dedication and participation of the nation’s flight crews. I applaud the unwavering efforts of flight attendants and federal officials as we seek the shared goal of ending human trafficking,” said House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ-02).

AFA encourages everyone on the frontlines of aviation to access tools available to take personal responsibility for becoming trained to recognize and report potential signs of human trafficking.

“I represent Las Vegas, which attracts more than 42 million visitors every year, and as a premier global destination, we are sadly all too familiar with the impact of this heinous crime,” said Representative Dina Titus (D-NV-01), member of the House Aviation Subcommittee. “We must engage in an all-hands-on-deck approach to identify and apprehend traffickers, which includes our airline personnel who are on the front line. Thanks to the Blue Lightning Initiative training program, our Flight Attendants are saving lives, both in and outside of the aircraft.”

The Blue Lightning Initiative offers Flight Attendants, aviation’s first responders, yet another tool to help save more lives on our airplanes.

# # #

The Association of Flight Attendants is the world’s largest Flight Attendant union. Focused 100 percent on Flight Attendant issues, AFA has been the leader in advancing the Flight Attendant profession for 67 years. Serving as the voice for Flight Attendants in the workplace, in the aviation industry, in the media and on Capitol Hill, AFA has transformed the Flight Attendant profession by raising wages, benefits and working conditions. Nearly 50,000 Flight Attendants come together to form AFA, part of the 700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO. Visit us at afacwa.org