Drunk AirBaltic crew sentenced to jail in Norwegian court

  • 2015-08-20
  • By Donna Doerbeck, RIGA

After the humiliating setback for the Latvian state owned airline AirBaltic on Aug. 8 — when a flight from Norway to Greece was delayed for hours due to four of its crew members arriving drunk to work — a Norwegian court has dished out jail sentences.

According to Germany's international broadcaster Deutsche Welle, two stewardesses, the pilot, and the co-pilot had been arrested following an anonymous tip-off by an employee at the hotel where the crew were staying.  The informant had spotted them drinking the night before the flight.

Facing the Norwegian court this Tuesday, the unidentified 38-years old Latvian co-pilot admitted that the four crew members lost control over their alcohol consumption the night before the flight — which was meant to take off from Oslo in the early hours of the morning.

The BBC reported that according to the co-pilot, the crew started drinking two bottles of Whisky and a large amount of beer at 3pm on Aug. 7. And they didn't stop until 2am the next day — just a few hours prior to their scheduled take-off time.

Nevertheless, the co-pilot blamed his dizziness during boarding to a lack of sleep — caused, he claimed, by exhausting flights over the previous few days.

As a Breathalyzer test revealed, his blood alcohol level was seven times the legal limit. Considering he also knew that the other crew members were drinking as well, the co-pilot was sentenced for six months for endangering the lives of the 100 passengers.

The 50-year old Latvian pilot, however, pleaded not guilty to some of the charges brought against him, despite his blood alcohol level being twice the legal limit. He will stay in custody until his official hearing on Sept. 17.

According to Norwegian law, he could be sentenced to up to two years in prison for working under the influence of alcohol, thereby violating professional and legal codes of  conduct. AirBaltic prohibits the consumption of alcohol within eight hours of flying.

The two flight attendants pleaded guilty and were sentenced to jail for 45 and 60 days.

In an official statement, AirBaltic apologized to its customers and announced that all four crew members were suspended from their duties. The airline has initiated sacking proceedings for the four crew members, and has resolved to bring in a mandatory pre-duty alcohol test was introduced for all pilots and staff working in a “safety critical” role.