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Hip pocket sacrifice to pay for shame of drunk pilot

December 4, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

The president and senior managing executive of Japan Airlines are paying the price – literally – for the shame surrounding last week’s conviction of a JAL pilot for being drunk on duty.

The drunken pilot fiasco has cost the Japan Airlines president 20% of his salary for a few months.

Pilot Katsutoshi Jitsukawa was jailed for 10 months in London on Friday for having  almost 10 times the legal limit of alcohol in his system when he was about to take off on a long-haul flight. (See: Pilot jailed for prospect ‘too appalling to contemplate’)

Taking responsibility for first officer Jitsukawa’s alcoholic indiscretion, JAL’s top executive, Yuji Akasaka, will take home 20% less pay from this month onward, until the end of February.

JAL’s senior managing executive officer, Toshinori Shin, will have his pay slashed by 10% as part of the same atonement process.

Both of them had already voluntarily surrendered part of their salaries for November.

JAL has apologised deeply for the embarrassing incident. Additionally, Jitsukawa’s arrest has led the airline to crack down on its pilots’ alcohol consumption. JAL has ordered many of its staff to be breathalysed before working. It has banned all pilots from drinking alcohol within 24 hours of reporting for a flight from Japan – and has forbidden them to consume alcohol during on-duty stays, whether in Japan or abroad.

JAL pilot Katsutoshi Jitsukawa, almost 10 times over alcohol limit. Photo: London Metropolitan Police

Bloomberg points out that top Japanese executives often take pay cuts as acts of contrition.

The issue of drunken pilots is not confined to Japan. India’s aviation regulator recently suspended the licence of a senior Air India captain for three years after he failed an alcohol test an hour before a Delhi-London flight.

A couple of years back, Canadian police charged a Sunwings passenger jet pilot after he was allegedly found passed out over his seat shortly before take-off, well over the alcohol limit.

Written by Peter Needham

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