In a huge embarrassment for the national carrier, an Air India captain was arrested in Sharjah, UAE on Saturday for turning up drunk to operate a long-haul flight to Delhi via Kochi. 120 passengers on Flight AI 934, were at the mercy of this captain who wasn’t even fit enough to walk straight.
The captain was reportedly reeking of liquor and was caught at the security checkpoint of the Sharjah airport while being frisked by officials along with other passengers.
According to a report in the Hindustan Times, Air India has already suspended the pilot. Following a relaxation in rules last year, a pilot in India loses his or her licence only when caught flying inebriated for the third time. Earlier, the pilot stood to lose the licence on the second instance, as per rules set down by former DGCA chief Nasim Zaidi.
“The captain was not fit to fly. We arranged another pilot to operate the Sharajah-Cochin-Delhi flight. The pilot has been detained for questioning. He was smelling of liquor. An inquiry is on,” an AI spokesperson told Hindustan Times.
TV reports said that Air India will conduct an investigation in the case, while the aviation regulator DGCA will also be conducting a separate probe into the case.
According to a Times of India report, Flight AI 934, with 120 passengers, finally took off at 4.35pm, more than three hours past the scheduled time, after AI managed to find a replacement to fly the Airbus A-320.