Japan Airlines Co. has found that one of its pilots has evaded breathalyzer tests before flights over 100 times since last year, company officials said Thursday, adding to the series of drinking incidents involving flight crew at the airline.
The latest revelation came as the government conducted an on-site inspection of the airline following the arrest of a JAL pilot in London in late October who showed up for work with a blood alcohol level well in excess of the country's legal limit, they said.
The 52-year-old captain in the latest incident to come to light told the company he did not take the breath tests because JAL's regulations did not stipulate alcohol tests.
The government plans to set more stringent rules for drinking by airline pilots. Alcohol tests are currently not mandatory in Japan and there is no set legal limit.
According to JAL, the pilot, who has flown 180 services since the summer of 2017, avoided taking breathalyzer tests 110 times during that period.
There were also 49 cases in which his co-pilots did not take breathalyzer tests, it said.
JAL has not decided how to reprimand the pilots.
A number of drinking incidents involving Japanese airline pilots have surfaced this year. The JAL co-pilot arrested in Britain was around 10 times over the country's alcohol limit and was sentenced to 10 months in prison by a British court late last month.
Separately, JAL said in a news conference Thursday that a high level of alcohol was detected in a breathalyzer test taken by one of its female flight attendants earlier in the week, though she denied drinking any alcohol before duty.
Alcohol was not detected in a test she took before boarding a flight from Narita airport to Honolulu on Monday, but two other cabin crew noticed her breath smelt of alcohol and demanded she take another test, JAL said.
The second test detected 0.15 milligram of alcohol in her breath, exceeding 0.10 mg which JAL sees as a threshold in deciding whether to allow pilots to board planes, but the 46-year-old crew member said she had not drunk any alcohol since Friday and repeatedly used mouthwash during the flight, according to the airline. The airline said it will continue to investigate the matter.
JAL does not currently have specific rules for drinking by flight attendants but said after the London incident that it plans to introduce breath tests for them as well as engineers.