Japan Airlines President Takes Pay Cut Due To Drunk Pilot

Japan Airlines has been in the news over one of their pilots, who was caught trying to board a flight from London to Tokyo nearly 10x over the legal blood alcohol limit for pilots. Just this past week the pilot was sentenced to 10 months in jail in the UK.

Obviously he was being incredibly reckless, and it’s a shame none of his colleagues tried to step in, told him to call in sick, etc. He explained that while he always wanted to be a pilot, he grew to be depressed and struggled to cope with the realities of constant longhaul travel, and alcohol was how he “self-medicated.”

Following this story, it looks like Japan Airlines management is taking action, and not the kind of action you might expect (well, it’s Japan, so maybe this is exactly what you’d expect).

It’s being reported that Japan Airlines’ president will be taking a 20% pay cut for a period of three months, while a senior managing executive officer will be taking a 10% pay cut over the same period.

Japan is obviously a country that’s both shame and pride-driven, and that comes in many forms. If Air India executives took a salary reduction every time a pilot was caught drunk, they’d be paying to work there. 😉

This isn’t the first time Japan Airlines management has done something like this. For example, nearly a decade ago when Japan Airlines was in a horrible financial situation, the CEO was known to take a city bus to work every day. At one point he also reduced his salary to about $90,000 per year.

Obviously I have huge respect for an airline president who shares the sacrifice when an airline isn’t doing well. That’s highly admirable, and something that so many US executives could learn from.

I don’t quite think a single pilot being caught drunk once falls in the same boat (that could happen at any airline), but again, this is Japan, so…

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

Comments

  1. That’s very admirable of the CEO and I have a lot of respect for him. He is taking responsibility for the people he manages and the company he leads. Truly a class act.

  2. The people in charge ultimately suffering is quite a Japanese mentality so I’m not surprised to read this. Earlier this year at a university football game, a player on the defensive team had a late tackle on the quarterback and the head coach quit. Quite an embarrassing but admirable action for the JAL president.

  3. Beyond the impaired JAL pilot attempting to work a flight is the underlying issue of “he grew to be depressed,” a much bigger problem IMO. It’s rather scary to think that depressed pilots, possibly suicidial ones, could be going out largely unchecked. While this incident brought the airline a lot of bad publicity, at least a potential tragedy was averted.

  4. The video was copyrighted in 2009 (MMIX on the last screen). Still relevant though and encouraging.

  5. Great. Will that resolve the incident and prevent similar future incidents? Although admirable, guilt-driven actions for penance are worthless. What are they planning on doing in the future to prevent such a dismal breakdown of the system?

  6. Given how ex-Delta CEO Richard Anderson has trashed Amtrak’s product and service to a new low (was that even possible?), if the JAL concept of accountability applied to Amtrak, imagine how many of their EVPs, VPs, + CEO would be coughing up their salary (not to mention their secret pre-ordained bonus established at the beginning of each budget year and unbelievably achieved, despite a decrease in revenues.)

  7. Many years ago AA had to retrain their recovering alcoholics to fly an airplane sober again. Pilots didn’t know how. Hats off to AA! Better than a pay cut.

  8. This is exactly why I hated my trip to Japan. The work culture is oppressive and intolerable – why people celebrate it is beyond me. How on Earth is it “admirable” to inflict a punishment on yourself for something that had nothing to do with you?

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