Japan Airlines Asks Employees to Stop Drinking Alcohol for the Rest of 2018
After a year filled with high-profile incidents, Japan Airlines has asked its employees to avoid drinking alcohol until 2019.
In October, a co-pilot was arrested after he was found, 50 minutes before his 10-hour flight was scheduled to take off, with glazed eyes and “difficulty standing straight,” according to the BBC. His blood alcohol content was almost 10 times the legal limit for a pilot. The pilot was fired and sentenced to 10 months in prison.
Earlier this month, a Japan Airlines flight attendant was accused of stealing and drinking a bottle of champagne during cabin service. Coworkers noted that the woman smelled of alcohol and disappeared frequently into the bathroom. An empty champagne bottle was found in the airplane garbage, despite not being served to passengers.
Japan’s transportation ministry has said that of its 31 total cases related to drinking (from January 2017 through November 2018), 21 were caused by Japan Airlines employees. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Japan Airlines has a more serious problem than any other Japanese airline. The ministry attributes the number to the airline’s recent adoption of high-accuracy alcohol detectors. If other airlines begin using the same detectors, they could also come under fire.
“The biggest problem is that trust in the airline industry has been damaged substantially,” an official at the transportation ministry told the Japan Times. “The (drinking) problem is not limited to JAL.”
The president of the airline will take a 20 percent pay cut for one month. The head of cabin crew will take a 10 percent pay cut. The airline also said that it will increase periodic testing and training for employees.
The move to ask employees to abstain from celebration during the holiday season is “unusually obtrusive,” according to Quartz. Japanese new year is traditionally a family affair when people gather with loved ones to visit local shrines and share meals. The drunken revelry that westerners associate with New Year’s Eve is more regularly celebrated in the weeks leading up to the end of the year — but it looks like JAL employees will not be taking part.