National / Crime & Legal

Japanese airline Skymark latest to be raided over pilots' drinking


The transport ministry conducted Tuesday an on-site inspection of Skymark Airlines after a pilot tested positive for alcohol before a flight and caused a delay last month.

The ministry had already inspected units of All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines over pilots’ drinking that resulted in flight delays.

Depending on the outcome of the inspections, the ministry will consider punitive measures against each of the three airlines based on the aviation law.

According to Skymark, the captain tested positive for alcohol in a breath test on Nov. 14 at Haneda airport, after drinking 3.5 liters of beer at home the previous day.

Although the exact concentration of alcohol in the American captain’s breath could not be measured because he and other staff members were unfamiliar with how to conduct further tests, the carrier replaced him with another captain, forcing the flight bound for New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido to depart 23 minutes behind schedule.

Later the same day, the airline found through another breath test that the replaced captain’s alcohol level was below the limit. But it gave him a strong warning in view of the massive alcohol intake the day before the flight.

The ministry said Tuesday that it will hold a meeting with top officials of 25 domestic carriers Wednesday to discuss preventive measures.