The transport ministry issued a business improvement order against All Nippon Airways Co. on Friday after one of its pilots drank alcohol before a flight last November.

ANA President Yuji Hirako received the order by phone instead of visiting the ministry amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

It is the first time ANA has been slapped down with such an order over drinking by crew members, an issue that has also affected other domestic airlines. The order is the ministry's third-most serious type of punishment, behind having a business license revoked and a business suspension.

The pilot was found to have been drinking alcohol Nov. 7 before boarding a flight bound for Fukuoka from Haneda Airport. He was replaced by a colleague, which caused a delay to a total of four flights of up to 73 minutes, affecting 2,000 people. The pilot was dismissed the following month.

Also, an ANA co-pilot was fired in February 2019 after alcohol was detected in his system before a Kobe-Haneda flight.

Japan Airlines Co. has twice been handed business improvement orders by the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry. It received the first one in December 2018 after a JAL co-pilot was convicted in Britain for being around 10 times over the country's legal alcohol limit prior to a London-Tokyo flight.