Air Baltic: Intoxicated Crew Results In Cancelled Flight – Passengers Stranded

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A crew of Air Baltic must have had a fun evening prior to their flight from Oslo to Chania (Crete) this weekend. After an alcohol test administered by the police, a total of four crew members were found unfit to fly.

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The police force at Oslo Airport had received a tip off regarding this crew and decided to spring into action. It was found that four crew members including both pilots had a blood alcohol level beyond 0.2‰. 

This result rendered the crew ‘unfit to fly’ or in less diplomatic terms: Drunk. The flight was cancelled and the passengers are being re-accommodated.

The Norwegian Magazine VG (access here – in Norwegian) reported about the incident with illustrative images and statements of some of the passengers. According to them the fight in question is AirBaltic from Oslo to Chania, a charter flight for tour operators.  The following is a simple translation of excerpts:

Local airport police stopped a flight to Crete flight from taking off. Cause: Captain, First Officer and two flight attendants were intoxicated.The police was notified of the crews suspected drinking on Friday night and came out to conduct an inspection at 05:15 o’clock.

According to police, the captain, co-pilot and two stewardesses rendered an alcohol test and failed it. That means everyone had a blood alcohol of over 0.2, according to police measurements.

“We received a message of suspicious drinking that made us chose to undergo a control, said operations chief Torleif Skovereng at Romerike police force to VG Saturday morning.

This proved to be a dramatic start for the more than 100 passengers. Before the plane had taken off, several of them witnessed the crew being led into a waiting police car.

A press release has in the meanwhile been issued by the airline (you can find it here).

Air Baltic Flight BT7843

Riga. The Latvian airline airBaltic regrets to inform that its flight BT7843 from Oslo, Norway, to Chania on the Greek Island of Crete was delayed by 4:45 hours due to its crew removed from operating the flight. According to the currently available information, four out of five crew are under initial suspicion for alcohol abuse, and they are now undergoing a careful medical examination to determine the actual blood alcohol levels.

Safety is our top priority and airBaltic is in process of careful investigation of this situation. airBaltic has several layers of control mechanism to ensure the safety of all airBaltic-operated flights. Procedures are in place to ensure potential mistakes of human factor are addressed.   airBaltic has temporarily suspended the involved four crew until the investigation is completed.

airBaltic thanks the Norwegian airport and police authorities for their contribution towards enforcing airBaltic safety principles

Safety is our top priority and airBaltic is in process of careful investigation of this situation. airBaltic has several layers of control mechanism to ensure the safety of all airBaltic-operated flights. Procedures are in place to ensure potential mistakes of human factor are addressed.   airBaltic has temporarily suspended the involved four crew until the investigation is completed.

airBaltic thanks the Norwegian airport and police authorities for their contribution towards enforcing airBaltic safety principles. …

AirBaltic is the flag carrier of Latvia, headquartered in Riga. Air Baltic often comes as the cheapest carrier if you fly within Europe, especially the Scandinavian countries and the Baltics.

Conclusion

I have seen crews drinking and ‘taking it easy’ more than once in various hotels all over the world. I never thought much of it as I assumed most of the time these guys just get off their flight and have a multiple day layover. Why not have a drink? Only once I saw the same crew checking out and en route to the airport the next morning. It was in Beijing and the crew was attached to an unnamed U.S. carrier.

For the staff involved in this incident I would make a pretty firm bet that this flight was their last. Intoxication on duty is usually not a minor ‘write off’ matter. The passengers should definitely file for EC261 compensation as this delay was caused by the airline, respectively the negligence of their staff,

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