Indonesian pilot under probe after allegedly showing up drunk for flight

PHOTO: Bloomberg

JAKARTA - Citilink, the low-cost subsidiary of Indonesian national carrier Garuda Indonesia, said Wednesday it had put one of its pilots under investigation after reports of an on-duty pilot allegedly under the influence of alcohol went viral online.

The incident occurred earlier in the day as a Citilink flight prepared to depart from Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, East Java, to Soekarno Hatta International Airport in Jakarta. The flight was scheduled to take off at 5.15am.

According to the Indonesian transportation ministry's report, passengers were initially baffled by an unclear announcement from the pilot, identified as Captain Tekad Purna, raising suspicion that he was drunk.

Many passengers decided to disembark from the plane soon after, with nine of them cancelling their flights.

"We want to apologise for the delay and the discomfort of the passengers of Citilink Indonesia QG 800 on Dec 28," Citilink vice president of corporate communications Benny S. Butarbutar said in a statement.

Citilink stated that the pilot's initial drug and alcohol test came up negative, but said the pilot would undergo further medical checks.

After the incident, Citilink decided to replace the pilot and the flight eventually departed an hour behind schedule with 154 passengers on board.

The ministry's director general of air transportation Suprasetyo said in a separate official statement that it had asked Citilink to make sure that the pilot underwent a medical check immediately.