Following an incident that raised concerns surrounding possible discrimination at the Budapest Airport, on the part of Canadian officials who have been reportedly hindering Hungarian passport-holders from boarding Air Transat and SkyGreece flights to Montreal and Toronto, the Hungarian Free Press contacted the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) for comment. Spokesperson Wendy Atkins responded to the HFP’s questions below. Ms. Atkins confirmed that CBSA officials have, indeed, been screening passengers at Liszt Ferenc International Airport since June 2015.
HFP: Is it standard practice for officials or staff of Canadian embassies, consulates or other missions, or the CBSA, to be present at major airports around the world, such as Liszt Ferenc Airport in Budapest, and question or deny boarding to travelers who have tickets purchased for flights to Canada?
CBSA: Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Liaison Officers (LOs) have been present to assist passenger screening agents in Budapest a number of times since June 2015. This is common; LOs work at airports in key locations across the globe, including in Hungary, to provide advice and guidance to screening agents on the identification of improperly-documented travellers (passengers intending to live in Canada permanently without an immigrant visa, passengers who have previously been removed from Canada who do not have the authorization to return to Canada, passengers with expired or fraudulent documents, etc).
CBSA LOs work with airlines to protect the integrity of Canada’s immigration system and the security of the Canadian border to assist airlines in ensuring that the passengers which they intend to carry to Canada are properly documented.
HFP: What is the number of Hungarian passengers who have been denied boarding by Canadian embassy officials or CBSA officials at the Budapest Airport, since the launch of direct flights between Hungary and Canada?
CBSA: The CBSA does not have this data, as the decision to allow or deny boarding rests with the airlines.
HFP: Are Canadian embassy or CBSA officials engaging in racial or ethnic profiling of passengers at the Budapest Airport?
CBSA: All persons, including Canadian citizens, seeking entry to Canada are subject to the same rules and regulations regardless of nationality, race and/or gender.