Finland's national airline Finnair confirmed that a pilot who reported for work intoxicated on Wednesday at Helsinki Airport was one of its employees.
According to MTV news, which first reported the story, the pilot had a blood alcohol concentration level (BAC) of 1.5 promille (mg per ml of blood). MTV reported that the airplane was not ready for departure and the captain was not yet sitting in the cockpit.
Finnair said in a press release that company staff made a notification about the suspected substance abuse, and a police patrol was then called to administer a breathalyser test, which confirmed the suspicion.
According to Finnair’s head of media relations Päivyt Tallqvist, this type of situation is very rare.
"The situation is under police investigation. When the substance abuse suspicion arose, Finnair staff reported it and then we followed protocol and asked the police to look into it. They administered a breathalyser test, which confirmed the suspicion," says Tallqvist.
No solo piloting
Depending on the route, there are usually two to three crew members in the cockpit on a Finnair flight, according to Tallqvist.
"We have a zero tolerance policy regarding substance abuse that affects everyone who works in security-critical tasks. Pilots, of course, belong to this group. So if an individual is at work under the influence of alcohol, we report it to the relevant authorities, as was done in this case. Termination of employment always follows," she says.
When asked by Yle whether the pilot in question was fired, Tallqvist replied, "In these types of situations termination of employment always follows. We take these things very seriously."
According to the Finnish News Agency STT, the flight in question was bound for Rome and scheduled to depart in the late afternoon.
Tallqvist says the flight's departure was delayed by an hour and a half after the crew was changed.
The Eastern Uusimaa Police reported on Friday that the incident is under investigation.