Japan Airlines is asking its employees to refrain from alcohol, even off-duty, for at least the rest of the year.
Honor is so important in Japanese culture and the flag carrier of Japan has been disgraced by two embarrassing revelations concerning its employees and alcohol. First, British authorities interdicted an intoxicated pilot attempting to operate a flight to Japan earlier this year. His blood alcohol content (BAC) was 10x over the legal limit! More recently, a FA failed a breathalyzer test on a flight from Tokyo to Honolulu…JAL later found that a bottle of champagne from Premium Economy had not been served to passengers and was missing.
Here’s one thing I immensely respect. In response to the drunk pilot incident, JAL President Yuji Akasaka took a 20% pay cut and Eri Abe, head of the cabin attendants division, took a 10% pay cut for three months. After the FA incident, each man tacked another month on. That “buck stops here” sets the tone for the entire company.
Now JAL is telling its employees to hold off on alcohol, at least until the new year. The Japan Times reports that no alcohol has been served at holiday parties this year. Furthermore, supervisors have been urging employees not to drink, even on their own time. Happy New Year indeed…
JAL is one of my favorite airlines in the world and it may well be that the recent incidents point to two bad apples rater than systemic problem. Let’s not forget that JAL has extremely accurate systems to check for BAC after a drunken pilot incident in 2016…that alone could explain why JAL seems to be in the news more. Even so, JAL is taking its reputation and this issue seriously. This makes me even more confident to step onboard a JAL flight.
While telling employees not to drink at all may sound like a draconian reaction, it is a fair guideline to ensure that JAL has no further alcohol-related incidents.