Japan Airlines and Star Flyer separately said Tuesday that alcohol was found on the breath of male co-pilots at the two carriers in preflight tests, and that they were prevented from boarding their scheduled flights as a result.
A 54-year-old JAL co-pilot claimed that he mistakenly consumed sake when he was eating a bento meal at a hotel in Kagoshima Prefecture around 2 p.m. on Saturday, according to the airline. He bought the sake on Friday.
Later the same day a test conducted on the co-pilot at Kagoshima Airport, in the city of Kirishima, measured 0.09 milligram of alcohol per liter of breath. He was replaced by another pilot.
There was no delay to the flight bound for Tokyo’s Haneda airport.
“We deeply apologize for causing such a situation again,” JAL said.
JAL said it is investigating the case, believing that the co-pilot’s claim is contradicted by the result of the preflight test.
Meanwhile, 0.23 milligram of alcohol per liter of breath was detected on a Star Flyer co-pilot in his 20s in a test conducted at Kitakyushu Airport in Fukuoka Prefecture on Sunday, said the regional carrier, which uses the airport as its hub.
The co-pilot’s Taipei-bound flight was delayed by 21 minutes from its scheduled 3:25 p.m. departure time. Another Star Flyer pilot stood in for him. There were 147 passengers aboard the flight.
The co-pilot had drunk 1.5 liters of highball cocktail and 720 milliliters of wine at eateries in the cities of Fukuoka and Kitakyushu from 7 p.m. Saturday to around 12:30 a.m. Sunday, according to Star Flyer.
“We apologize from the bottom of our hearts,” Star Flyer said.
A spate of cases in which alcohol was detected on the breath of pilots working for JAL and other domestic airlines in preflight tests came to light last year, prompting criticism from the public.