4 October 2000

BA pilots suspended over alcohol claim

Eleven pilots and three cabin crew have been suspended by British Airways amid claims they drank before flights.

It follows allegations in a Channel 4 programme in which a woman, posing as a former BA stewardess, was seen drinking with BA crew members.

All have been taken off duty while an internal investigation takes place.

BA said the probe centres around whether or not the crew had breached its own regulations regarding alcohol consumption before a flight.

The airline confirmed it had asked the makers of Channel 4's Dispatches programme, which had made the allegations, to hand over to the airline "any evidence that will assist the investigation as a matter of course". BA's safety director David Hyde said: "BA takes any potential breach of regulations very seriously.

"We have launched a formal investigation and have notified the Civil Aviation Authority of the allegations and the actions we are taking."

The allegations refer to staff all employed on short–haul flights mainly operated out of Gatwick airport in West Sussex.

The alleged drinking incidents were mainly at European hotels and the three cabin crew members include at least one stewardess.

The suspensions of staff were made on Friday immediately after Channel 4 contacted BA, although it is understood that BA had warned staff a month ago of the Channel 4 activity.