'Drunk' crew delays flights by 6 hours

20 December 2018 | Transport

Flight delays of several hours were experienced by Air Namibia on Monday because of flight crew who had looked a bit too deep into the bottle.

Air Namibia spokesman Paul Nakawa confirmed the incident to Namibian Sun and said that the SW722 early-morning flight from Johannesburg to Windhoek was delayed by almost six hours due to an incident involving the flight crew.

He said Air Namibia conducted a random alcohol test that morning and two cabin crew members as well as the first officer tested positive for alcohol.

Another cabin crew member refused to take the test.

“The four flight crew members were immediately removed from their flying duties, as they were unfit to carry out their duties,” said Nakawa. According to him Air Namibia had to send another crew from Windhoek and as a result the flight from Johannesburg to Windhoek was delayed by five hours and 52 minutes.

The incident also affected the Windhoek-Luanda route and the Windhoek-West Africa (Lagos and Accra) route, delaying flights by up to seven hours.

“The four crew members were flown to Windhoek as passengers,” said Nakawa.

Upon arrival in Windhoek the crew members who had tested positive for alcohol were informed of the allegations against them and were given 24 hours to submit why Air Namibia should not suspend them.

Their actions were against the company policy and international aviation regulations.

According to Nakawa they specifically breached the Air Namibia Cabin Crew Manual, which states that cabin crew are not permitted to drink alcoholic beverages for eight hours before going on duty.



“Operating cabin crew will not, under any circumstances, be permitted to consume alcohol on board a company aeroplane,” said Nakawa.



He said Air Namibia, being the national flag carrier that complies with all local and international regulations, does everything within its power to ensure safe operations. “Safety is at the heart of our operations. We do not condone such behaviour and hence the reason why the airline acted swiftly to this unfortunate incident.



“The people we put on our aircraft must adhere to international standards of ICAO at all times, and our manuals are clear on flight crew's conduct,” said Nakawa.



“Crew members are not only servers of tea and coffee, they are safety officers first. And that is why you will find that our safety record as an airline is impeccable.



“To this end, we do what is required from us as a responsible airline. But unfortunately, when we have done everything that we could, we cannot take further responsibility for our staff who breach the provisions of their employment,” said Nakawa.



He stressed that the crew members would have to take responsibility for their actions.



“We hereby wish to sincerely apologise and reassure our passengers that it is indeed safe to fly with Air Namibia. We are conscious of the safety of our passengers, and would never release an aircraft to the skies if it is not safe to do so,” said Nakawa.

ELLANIE SMIT

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