Dhaka: Two members of Qatar Airways cabin crew were found drunk before flight departure to Doha from Helsinki Airport, Finland resulting in a flight delay of 12 hours yesterday on April 16. The two Qatar crew members, reportedly a First Officer and a flight attendant, were arrested at the airport by Finnish police authorities just before 8:30 am yesterday.
The two flight attendants had been due to work Qatar Airways flight QR304 to Doha which is operated by an Airbus A350-900. The roughly five and a half hour flight was meant to depart Helsinki at just before 10 am on April 16 but was subsequently delayed over 12-hours so that replacement crew members could be flown in. The flight eventually arrived back in Doha at just before 4 am the next day on April 17.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused to our passengers and we made the necessary arrangements for them to be accommodated during this delay,” a spokesperson from Qatar Airways said in a statement.
“Safety and security are our highest priority and the airline has a zero tolerance approach to any legal violations. We will be working closely with the local authorities on this matter,” added the statement.
Finland has strict drunk flying rules and all members of aircrew including pilots and cabin crew are banned from drinking any alcohol within 12-hours of operating a flight. Police have the power to conduct random breath tests on aircrew and airport workers are encouraged to report crew members who they suspect might be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Last year, the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat claimed an increasing number of Finnish cabin crew had a drinking problem, saying that cases unearthed at Finnair, the flag carrier of Finland, were just “the tip of the iceberg”.
Finnair says it takes a zero-tolerance approach to drunkenness and aircrew who come into work drunk face immediate dismissal – a similar fate the two Qatar crew will face undoubtedly.