REALLY Drunk airBaltic Crew Sentenced And Jailed

Filed Under: Other Airlines

A bit over a week ago I wrote about the airBaltic flight between Oslo and Chania which was delayed by nearly five hours after four of the five crew members (including the captain, first officer, and two flight attendants) had to be removed over suspicion of alcohol abuse.


airBaltic was surprisingly transparent regarding the situation, and explained what they knew in a press release directly on their website:

The Latvian airline airBaltic regrets to inform that its flight BT7843 from Oslo, Norway, to Chania on the Greek Island of Crete was delayed by 4:45 hours due to its crew removed from operating the flight. According to the currently available information, four out of five crew are under initial suspicion for alcohol abuse, and they are now undergoing a careful medical examination to determine the actual blood alcohol levels.

So just how drunk was the crew? Per BBC, the first officer was intoxicated to almost seven times the legal limit:

The co-pilot, 38, was found to have a blood alcohol level of almost seven times the legal limit.

He told the court that he and his colleagues had downed two bottles of whisky before he began drinking beer.

“We lost control,” the man told the court on Monday, explaining his blood alcohol reading of 1.35mg of ethanol per millilitre of blood, far over the 0.2mg limit.

They had begun drinking at 15:00 on 7 August, the co-pilot told the court, and had agreed to stop at 20:00 but lost control of the amount they had drunk because they were tired after three consecutive flights.

He was still drinking beer shortly before 02:00 the next day, around four hours before his flight was due to leave with some 100 passengers on board.

The first officer is now being jailed for six months, while two of the flight attendants were given sentences of 45 and 60 days each. Meanwhile the captain faces trial on September 17, and apparently denies some of the charges against him. All four crew members are in the process of being dismissed from airBaltic.

Bottom line

Thank goodness the crew was stopped before they could fly. It still blows my mind that an airline crew could be so reckless. It’s one thing if there were just one crew member doing this, but to have four members of a five person crew be so stupid is just shocking.

(Tip of the hat to Mike)

  1. Wow! It is crazy for that to happen, and on the same airline, less than a few weeks apart?! Unbelievable

  2. @ Anonymous — Just to clarify, this story is a follow up to that one. This didn’t happen again, but rather more details have emerged of the initial incident.

  3. You have to wonder if this is indicative of some messed up culture at that airline. I would hope that there is some kind of internal review to find out if this is a “one off”.

  4. For those of us in the States, our BAC standard relies upon g/ml of ethanol in the blood whereas Europe relies upon mg/ml of ethanol in the blood. So move the decimal point and the .08 g/ml (or .08 BAC) that we’re familiar with for driving becomes .80 mg/ml for Europe. Meaning that this guy was was about 1.7x more intoxicated that what is acceptable to operate a motor vehicle in the US.

  5. @James: While the result of your calculation is correct, the calculation itself IS NOT. 1g (gram) equals 1000mg (milligram), so .08g/ml would be 80mg/ml. The real difference is that BAC is specified as a “percentage” (parts per one hundred) in the US, while in Europe it’s usually measured as “permille” (parts per one thousand).

  6. Actually, it’s probably because it was a group that they didn’t stop. A single person might go, yeah, it’s 8, gotta stop. A group will have one person say, “just one more” and then someone else agrees, and the next thing you know, bad decisions are being made. It’s group think with alcohol and fatigue added in.

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