An undated photo of missing Saudi pilot trainee Abdullah Khaled Al Sherif Image Credit: Social Media

Riyadh: The Philippine authorities have stepped up search for a Saudi aviation student, who went missing more than a week ago along with his Filipino instructor while flying a training plane, the Saudi embassy in Manila has said.

Abdullah Khalid Al Sherif, 23, who studies at an aviation institution in the Philippines, was on a training flight on May 18 when contact was lost with the plane.

The Embassy said in a statement that it had set up a team working round the clock with the Philippine authorities searching for the missing trainee and his instructor.

“The Saudi Foreign Ministry constantly follows up with the embassy on search for the student,” the mission said. “We will continue to make efforts to search for him in coordination with the Philippine Interior Ministry, the Defence Ministry, the Civil Aviation Authority and other agencies concerned.”

More than a week after the aircraft disappeared from radar on the Occidental Mindoro, the trainee’s family believe the aircraft was hijacked.

“Evidence and information available to us indicate that the aircraft has been hijacked,” Abdullah’s brother, Abdul Majid, told Saudi news portal Ajel.

Abdul Majuid, who is now in the Philippines, added that he believes his brother and his trainer are still alive, as no debris was yet found.

His father, meanwhile, said that days ago, a friend of Abdullah called him on his mobile phone and a Filipina woman answered before she ended the call.