Qatar Airways Flight Gets Delayed 10 Hours After Crew Turn Up Drunk

Two Qatar crew members have been found drunk on duty at Helsinki Airport in Finland. They were due to fly an A350-900 back to Doha this morning, but instead they were arrested and the flight and all its passengers have been delayed until 10pm tonight.

Qatar A350
The Qatar A350 was delayed by more than 12 hours. Photo: Qatar

Now there’s nothing wrong with a good night out; we all deserve a bit of downtime now and then. But when you’ve got work the next day, and that work involves getting an Airbus A350-900 full of passengers almost 3,000 miles across the globe safely, an early night might be a better idea.

The two Qatar crew members, reportedly a First Officer and a flight attendant, turned up to work somewhat inebriated. Due to operate the Helsinki to Doha flight number QR304, the pair boarded the plane but appeared to be ‘under the influence’.

Qatar Helsinki
CEO of Qatar Al Baker meeting with Kari Savolainen, CEO of Finavia, at the launch of Qatar’s Helsinki service in 2016. Photo: Qatar

Police were called and breathalyzers issued, which revealed that the two men were indeed over the limit. Now they face backlash not only from their employer, who have a zero tolerance policy on alcohol consumption by crew, but also by Finnish authorities who have their own laws about trying to work while drunk.

Finnish police reports confirmed that ‘both men are suspected of being guilty of air traffic drunkenness’ but also that ‘The incident is still in progress and the police cannot comment on the matter at this time.’

Delayed by 12 hours

Police were called to Helsinki Airport at 8:28am this morning following a report that airline crew were intoxicated. At the time, the aircraft was on the tarmac and almost ready to go. Naturally, the condition of the First Officer and flight attendant meant there was no way it could fly.

The flight was delayed by over 12 hours. Image:

The outcome of the incident is that the flight has been delayed by at least 12 hours. As Finland is part of the EU, passengers will be able to claim under the EC 261/2004 compensation scheme, which means everyone will be paid €600 for the inconvenience.

Qatar also have a duty of care to the affected passengers, meaning they should provide food, accommodation if necessary and phone calls to people they need to notify. With up to 283 passengers booked on the flight, this incident could end up costing Qatar dearly.

Undoubtedly the two guys involved in the incident will not only soon be unemployed, but will almost certainly be unemployable, at least within the airline industry. If they’re lucky, they won’t be imprisoned in Finland and may be allowed to return home. But with Qatar being somewhat strict on alcohol themselves, especially while at work, the reception back home could be somewhat frosty too.

Now, I like a good night out as much as the next person, but that’s got to be the hangover from hell.

Drunk person
I think they’ll be regretting the fun they had last night. Photo: Pxhere

Not the first time for Qatar

It’s not the first time Qatar have been caught out by staff who like to party hard. In 2015, Qatar’s Vice President Rossen Dimitrov emailed a shaming photograph of an employee in a state of intoxication to the entire airline workforce.

The image showed the woman on the floor, presumably passed out drunk, outside her room. Dimitrov took the opportunity to tell the rest of the workforce how disappointed he was in her behavior. In a mass email, he said:

“I am so ashamed and disturbed by this behavior displayed by a tenured member of our team, an adult who has been with the company for over 9 years. How can we change rules when we do not behave as mature individuals? I am very disappointed.”

The flight attendant was, of course, fired.

We hear plenty of stories about drunk pilots and crew members here at Simple Flying, but most come out of Asia or are isolated incidents elsewhere. With the Middle East’s cultural disdain for alcohol in general, it’s unusual to hear of problems at an airline like Qatar. Hopefully the outcome of this incident will send a clear message to other employees so that lives are not put at risk in the future.