London - Two pilots were arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of alcohol as they prepared to fly a transatlantic passenger jet from Scotland to Canada have been remanded in custody after appearing in court.
Staff are understood to have raised concerns over the pilots' behaviour before Air Transat A310, carrying up to 250 passengers, was due to depart from Glasgow to Toronto. Officers arrested the men - identified as Jean-Francois Perreault, 39, and Zafar Syed, 37 - on suspicion of being “impaired through alcohol” before they were due to take off at 1pm.
Perreault and Syed were charged under section 93 of the Railway and Transport Safety Act, which covers alcohol and drug limits in aviation, when they appeared in private from custody at Paisley Sheriff Court.
Section 93 states: “A person commits an offence if he performs an aviation function at a time when the proportion of alcohol in his breath, blood or urine exceeds the prescribed limit, or he carries out an activity which is ancillary to an aviation function at a time when the proportion of alcohol in his breath, blood or urine exceeds the prescribed limit.”
For pilots, the limit of alcohol in the case of breath is nine microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres, according to the Act.
Perreault, from Ontario, and Syed, from Toronto, were also charged under section 38 of the Criminal Justice Act which relates to “threatening or abusive behaviour”. They made no plea or declaration and will appear before the court again within eight days.
The Canadian airline confirmed the arrest of its employees, adding that the flight had been rescheduled and the passengers put up in hotels. A spokesperson said: “Air Transat has learnt of the arrest on 18 July of two crew members assigned to its Glasgow-Toronto flight. We will await the results of the investigation and judicial proceedings before making any further comments. The safety of our crew and passengers is, and will remain, a top priority at Air Transat.”
Some passengers voiced their anger over an apparent lack of an official explanation over the delay. Toronto resident Nick Davis tweeted that he had been “ignored all day by airtransat”, while @sdp0313 tweeted: “TS725 22 hr delay. Thinking the op issue was more of a staff issue, police involved, why? Answers plz airtransat.”
Apologising for the delay to Sean Brown, who had been on holiday in Scotland from Ontario, the airline tweeted, “for operational reasons we have no choice”. The airline has rescheduled the flight.