Japan Airlines (JAL) planes at Narita airport, Tokyo, Japan (Shutterstock/EQRoy)
Japan Airlines Co. said Friday it has reported to the government on its new rules around alcohol consumption by its flight staff and measures to monitor enforcement following a series of drinking-related problems at the company.
JAL said it has tightened alcohol control since earlier this month, barring flight crew from boarding if more than 0.00 milligram of alcohol per liter is detected in the pre-boarding breath test, compared with the previous threshold of 0.1 milligram per liter.
The airline has also set up an in-house committee headed by company President Yuji Akasaka to improve the organizational climate concerning safety. The panel is expected to compile a report by the end of March.
"I deeply apologize for having caused tremendous trouble related to the drinking problems and damaging public trust," Akasaka said at a press conference in Tokyo.
JAL has been under scrutiny since one of its pilots was arrested by British police in October for being around 10 times over the legal alcohol limit under British aviation law, delaying the departure of its London-Tokyo flight for more than an hour. He was later convicted in Britain and dismissed by JAL.
A female flight attendant was also found to have drunk some champagne while on duty on a flight from Narita airport outside Tokyo to Honolulu in December.
Following these incidents, JAL said six executives will face pay cuts for up to three months from February. Among them, Akasaka already had his salary reduced from December and will continue to see the disciplinary measure.
Read also: JAL probed over copilot’s drinking
Transport minister Keiichi Ishii said his ministry will conduct on-site inspections of JAL and other domestic airlines in the near future to check if their flight crews are following stricter regulations set by each company.
"We will make maximum efforts to restore public confidence in aviation safety," Ishii said at a news conference after a Cabinet meeting.
In the wake of drinking scandals last year, the ministry decided to introduce tougher rules on pilots' alcohol consumption, making alcohol tests mandatory and banning pilots from boarding if even a tiny amount of alcohol is detected in their system.
Earlier, JAL had introduced stringent rules that prohibit pilots from drinking in a 24-hour period before a flight as a temporary measure and alcohol tests on all flight attendants before departure. From March, such tests will be held after arrival as well.
In addition to JAL, the ministry has issued warnings to four other airlines -- All Nippon Airways Co., ANA Wings Co., Skymark Airlines Inc. and Japan Air Commuter Co. -- which were found to have issues involving excessive drinking by their pilots.
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