Syrian pilots fleeing the country... Where to?

Syrian pilots fleeing the country... Where to?

Reports | 25 05 2020

The Syrian pilots’ chances of getting jobs in international airlines seem to be negligible after the pilots’ several attempts to apply for jobs in Gulf and Arab companies have failed, for these companies tend to hire and prefer other nationalities.

While some Syrian pilots resort to buying other nationalities offered for low prices, others try to marry people of other nationalities, hoping this would allow them to practice their profession again.

Syrian Air currently has one plane operating in the field and this has led many of the company's employees to resign and look for other jobs outside the country, which is the case for most Syrians.

"I paid 10,000 dollars to get a Sudanese passport, in order to be able to work for a Gulf airline company as a pilot," said the pilot-in-command, Imad, during an interview with Rozana. He added that "even though I got the passport, more than one Gulf airline refused to hire me."

Imad, who worked for the Syrian Air, stated that "the pilots who have Sudanese nationality are not welcome to work in Gulf airlines, just like any other who holds a Syrian nationality. "He pointed out that "the Sudanese passport is very similar to the Syrian." 

Imad provided all the papers required for a Sudanese agent, after he received confirmed information from a colleague at the Syrian Air. This information revealed that a Sudanese agent working for the brother of the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir could secure a personal guarantee from the president's brother to obtain a Sudanese passport, within a period which does not exceed two months, in return for payment of the required amount. "

"The networks of corruption are spreading throughout the Arab countries, from the highest brick in the pyramid of power to the bottom. Each network has its prices and headquarters,” insisted the pilot "When you have money you can get the official documents you want, but through illegal means."

Syrian pilots fleeing the country 

Imad left Syria in 2013 after a long unpaid leave.

"This kind of leaves has stopped now and some of my colleagues are unable to get it because the institution has noticed that the Syrian pilots are fleeing. When the situation improves in Syria, they can return to their jobs, because their absence is legally justified."

Abdel Aziz is another Syrian pilot-in-command, who left Syria at the end of 2012, and obtained a Philippine passport, after paying 35,000 thousand dollars to one of the agents on three instalments. During the interview with Rozana, he said: "corruption networks are not limited to the Arab countries, but they are also spread in Asia."

Regarding the huge amount of money he paid, Abdel Aziz clarified: "I know that the amount I paid was very huge, but I later compensated it in working as an airline captain."

Abdel Aziz, who currently works in a Gulf airline, went on saying: "at first, my salary was normal until I exceeded the required flight hours, so I was promoted and then got a higher salary, compared to my salary at the beginning and the salaries I used to get in Syria." 

Reaching the right agent in the Philippines has been the real problem. There are large corruption networks, and it is not easy for a stranger in a big country like the Philippines to reach the right agent and get what he wants.

After arriving in the Philippines, Abdel Aziz paid a number of agents. However, they disappeared before giving him what he wanted. After adapting to the life there, he finally managed to obtain the passport. "After a long period of my stay, I met people who directed me to the right agent, and in the end, I reached my goal," claimed the pilot.

The journey of finding a foreign nationality!

There are many countries where Syrian pilots can obtain passports that enable them to work for non-Syrian airlines, from African countries, such as Sudan, to Asian countries, like the Philippines and Vietnam, up to Russia.

"The problem of getting a Russian passport is still at its beginning. My Russian friend, who has been living in Russia for 30 years, helped me to know a Russian girl who accepted to marry me. In two or three years, I would be able to obtain a Russian citizenship and a Russian passport," stated Wassel in an interview with Rozana Radio.

Wassel has agreed to pay 12,000 dollars to the Russian girl on three instalments on bail of his friend.

From his side, Wassel is not comfortable with this agreement. However, he has few choices. He is torn between not being able to pay the amounts of money to obtain Philippine passports, the risk of having an African passport, which he may find it undesirable later, and not wanting to resort to Europe, for the inevitability of not being allowed to be a civilian airplane pilot there.

Wassel's situation is no different than that of colleagues who have been facing a wide range of difficulties and obstacles, on top of which the "accusations" of holding Syrian passports, and that they do not want to spend the rest of their lives learning a new language and profession. Being civilian airplanes pilots is all what they want.

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