JAL Sets 24-Hour Booze Ban For Pilots


Japan Airlines has tightened its rules regarding alcohol consumption by employees in the wake of series of incidents that have caused flight delays and led to the arrest of one pilot. Pilots are now banned from any alcohol consumption within 24 hours of flying a company plane and the airline is also extending its mandatory random breathalyzer tests to some ground crew members. Most airlines have a 12-hour pre-flight alcohol ban and most governments mandate eight hours. Last year the airline began using more modern breathalyzers and there was an immediate spike in flight disqualifications with more than limit of .02 percent alcohol in their blood. According to CNN, at least 19 pilots have tested positive since August of 2017, resulting in 12 flight delays. It should be noted that Japan Airlines operates more than 500 flights a day so the impact of alcohol-related incidents is statistically insignificant.

Nevertheless, a high-profile incident in which JAL pilot Katsutoshi Jitsukawa showed up for his flight from Heathrow to Tokyo in early November with blood-alcohol content of .189 prompted the airline to review its policies. It also led to the company president taking a voluntary 20 percent pay cut. “We feel deeply responsible for causing the (Jitsukawa) incident that should never have happened,” said Japan Airlines President Yuji Akasaka. JAL announced the new policies after JAL and ANA brass met with government officials earlier this week.