National

Japan Airlines faces fresh disciplinary action after flight attendant drank Champagne on Narita-Honolulu flight

Kyodo

The government Friday recommended Japan Airlines Co. improve operations after one of its flight attendants drank alcohol while on duty last month, the latest disciplinary measure against the airline that has been embroiled in a number of such incidents involving its flight crews recently.

Transport minister Keiichi Ishii criticized the airline, saying, “The company as a whole lacks awareness that this is a critical problem in terms of safety.”

The female attendant drank some Champagne meant for passengers while working on a flight from Narita airport to Honolulu on Dec. 17. A colleague noticed the smell of alcohol on her breath and she tested positive in a Breathalyzer test, according to JAL.

She has also admitted to consuming alcohol on a flight in November 2017, the airline said.

“I deeply apologize for the series of cases of misconduct,” JAL President Yuji Akasaka said after receiving the recommendation at the ministry.

JAL has been under scrutiny since one of its pilots was arrested by British police in October for being around 10 times over the legal alcohol limit under U.K. aviation law, delaying the departure of its London-Tokyo flight for more than an hour.

He was later convicted of the charge and dismissed by JAL.

Given the series of drinking-related incidents, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism issued a business improvement order for JAL in December. Friday’s action adds to pressure on JAL to enhance its safety management.

Among other instances of misconduct by JAL crew members, it was recently learned that a captain used another pilot as a stand-in in order to skip alcohol testing ahead of his Narita-Chicago flight in December 2017.