Public officials in Japan have railed against a near-epidemic of crew members failing to pass mandated breathalyzer tests. The most recent in a string of incidents involved an All Nippon Airways pilot who was grounded after testing over the limit prior to a flight from Itami to Miyazaki – delaying hundreds of passengers in the process.
Officials in Japan have struggled to reassure the public after several high-profile incidents in which crew members employed by the nation’s largest airlines have been accused of flying while intoxicated. The latest incident, in which an All Nippon Airways (ANA) pilot was grounded after allegedly failing a preflight breathalyzer test, won’t likely help to quell the traveling public’s fears.
According to a report in the The Mainichi, the captain of an ANA wings flight scheduled to depart from Osaka International Airport (ITM) for Miyazaki Airport (KMI) failed a random preflight breathalyzer. The pilot involved reportedly admitted to consuming alcohol the previous day, but said that he had not had anything to drink in the twelve hours before reporting for duty. Because the crew member had to be removed from duty, the resulting crew-reshuffling resulted in at least five canceled flights.
In November, Japan’s Transport and Tourism Minister Keiichi Ishii used a hasty press conference to announce a crackdown on flight and cabin crews drinking on the job after a Japan Airlines (JAL) pilot was arrested after testing at nearly ten times the legal BAC when reporting for duty at London Heathrow Airport (LHR). “We will use all possible means to ensure flight safety,” the minister said at the time. In a previous incident in May, a JAL flight attendant was accused of sneaking a beer into the lavatory and downing it during a flight.
This week’s episode marks the second high-profile, crew-involved, alcohol-related incident since officials promised to turn the tide. A Japan Airways flight attendant was removed from duty after being accused of downing a six-ounce bottle of sparkling wine in the lavatory and failing multiple breathalyzer tests during a flight from Honolulu Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) to Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND).
In response to the slew of embarrassing alcohol-related scandals, Japan Airways executives announced that they would dock their own pay by way of apology as they cracked down on over-the-limit crew members.
“The Company takes this incident seriously, as safety remains our utmost priority, and will continue to take steps to raise awareness on the effects of alcohol consumption, while implementing key preventive measures,” the airline announced in an official mea culpa. “For the cabin attendant in question, internal disciplinary measures will be taken by the company. Representative Director/President Yuji Akasaka will take a 20 percent salary reduction and Executive Officer/Cabin Attendants Division Eri Abe will take a 10 percent salary reduction for one month, respectively. With this in mind, the Company sincerely apologizes for any inconvenience and undue stress caused to all involved.”