"Though not excusable, at least one can assume that the pilot must have got carried away and drank too much the previous evening," said an AI official requesting anonymity. "But when a pilot is caught under the influence of alcohol for an evening departure, one can imagine the level of indiscipline," he added.
AI spokesperson GP Rao confirmed the incident. "We will act as per the guidelines issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)," Rao said.
The pilot, a captain in the Airbus fleet is an office-bearer of the Indian Commercial Pilots Association – a union of erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots. The ICPA did not comment on the story.
"The DGCA should come down hard on drunk pilots," said aviation safety expert captain Mohan Ranganathan. "Second time offence warrants cancellation of licence," he said. As per the DGCA rules, flying licence of a pilot is suspended for three months for first offence. For a repeat offence, the flying licence is suspended for five years.