Japanese Transport Ministry Calls Out ANA After Pilot Alcohol Incident

Yesterday, Japan’s Ministry of Transportation issued a “business improvement order” to major national carrier All Nippon Airways. This follows an incident where one of its pilots consumed alcohol before a flight last November, causing a delay of over 70 minutes.

ANA orders more from Boeing
The incident took place on 7 November before a flight from Tokyo Haneda to Fukuoka. Photo: BriYYZ via Wikimedia Commons

Incident details

According to Japanese news site Japan Today, the incident in question took place on November 7th, 2019. It was on that day, at Tokyo Haneda Airport, that an ANA pilot was found to have been drinking alcohol prior to boarding a flight bound for Fukuoka.

Because of his actions, he had to be replaced by a colleague. This caused the delay of four flights. One flight, in particular, was delayed by as much as 73 minutes. In total, 2,000 travelers were affected by the actions of one pilot.

The employee in question was dismissed the following month.

ANA flight attendant
ANA forbids any of their crew to drink less than 24 hours before their next shift. Photo: ANA

A serious offense

Japan Today notes that this is the first time ANA has been handed a “business improvement order” with regards to alcohol consumption by crew members. The order is considered the ministry’s third-most serious type of punishment, below having a business license revoked and having the business suspended.

“Employees will work as one to prevent (this kind of incident) from happening again and recover trust,” -Yuji Hirako, ANA President

Meanwhile, Japan’s Transport Minister Kazuyoshi Akaba called the situation “extremely regrettable”, and hopes that the airline will take the order seriously to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Japan Airlines has had a few incidents of employees drinking before duty as well. This has officially earned it two business improvement orders from the Japanese transport ministry. Photo: Getty Images

In the last year and a half there have been a handful of incidents involving Japanese flight crew and alcohol. In February of 2019, an ANA co-pilot was fired after alcohol was detected in his system before a Kobe-Haneda flight.

Simple Flying reported earlier this year that an ANA flight attendant had too much to drink and also delayed four flights. Back in 2018, a Japan Airlines pilot was found to be 10 times the legal limit in the UK, just before flying a full flight to Japan. The pilot was arrested by police and sentenced to 10 months in prison and was fired by the airline. As a result, the airline was also given a business improvement order. The carrier now has a total of two business improvement orders on record.


While it’s not necessarily unique to Japan, prohibited alcohol consumption by flight crew is certainly making the headlines a lot more frequently compared to carriers in other countries. Hopefully, this latest business improvement order will serve as a sufficient warning for the airline and its workforce.

Why do you think this type of situation is happening more frequently in Japan than in other countries? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.