Citilink, the low-cost subsidiary of national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia, has suspended one of its pilots following reports that he was possibly under the influence of alcohol while on duty.
"Citilink is very serious about handling this matter. The pilot in question has been suspended until the ongoing investigation is completed,” president director Albert Burhan said in an official statement distributed to the press on Thursday evening.
The pilot, identified as Capt. Tekad Purna, was relieved on Wednesday after passengers claimed he spoke incoherently during a flight announcement made before takeoff. Many passengers decided to disembark from the plane soon after as they were suspicious that the pilot was drunk.
The incident occurred on Wednesday morning as a Citilink flight prepared to depart from Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, East Java, to Soekarno Hatta International Airport in Jakarta.
After the incident, Citilink decided to replace the pilot and the flight eventually departed an hour behind schedule with 154 passengers on board.
The pilot was reported to have undergone a medical test at a clinic in Surabaya, East Java, as well as a second medical test in Jakarta by the Flight Health Agency. The final results of the medical check will be issued in a week.
Citilink, however, confirmed that the pilot had appeared “physically unfit” during the incident, leading to the last-minute decision to replace him with another pilot.
The airline is scheduled to hold a press conference about the progress of its investigation into the incident on Friday. (hwa)