CHINA - Some Chinese airlines have banned their pilots from staying up late to watch World Cup football matches for safety reasons.
"Watching the World Cup will affect work and safety," China Southern Airlines, the country's largest carrier in terms of fleet, said in a notice to its employees.
It has also forbidden its frontline staff members, which include pilots, from watching or discussing the tournament during work.
China Southern is focusing on preventing the risks of pilot fatigue and drinking problems that may result from watching the games, the notice said.
Airline crew and their supervisors will be penalized if they are found to have such problems, it added.
Spring Airlines, the largest low-cost carrier in China, released a similar notice before the World Cup began in Brazil on June 12.
"The period of the World Cup is also the peak season for civil aviation. In order to ensure safety, the carrier will check to see if employees are fatigued at any time," the notice said.
Zhang Wuan, spokesman for Spring Airlines, said the rules not only target pilots, but all frontline employees involved with safety.
The airline has adopted measures such as taking blood pressure readings to determine if crew members are experiencing fatigue during the one-month tournament.
"We are not taking away workers' rights to watch the games, but they cannot let the matches have an adverse effect on their work," Zhang said.
Civil aviation authority regulations state that it is important for pilots to maintain their energy levels and to have sufficient rest, which should be twice their flight time in each 24 hours and no less than eight hours a day.
A captain with a domestic airline, who declined to be identified, said, "My employer does not forbid watching the World Cup, but I got an e-mail to remind us not to stay up too late and to adjust our rest time properly."
The captain, a fan of Germany, said he decides whether to watch a game depending on his work schedule.
Some foreign airlines have come up with creative solutions for pilots to balance work with their interest in the tournament.
Pilots for German flag carrier Lufthansa, for example, learn the scores from ground crew while they are flying.