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SriLankan suspends pilot : Delay due to drunk pilot

The passengers affected by the prolonged delay on flight UL 554 from Frankfurt to Colombo on August 19 will be compensated as per EU regulations, SriLankan Airlines spokesman Deepal Perera said. The flight carrying 259 passengers was scheduled to depart Frankfurt, Germany at 3.20 p.m. on Friday for Sri Lanka. It was delayed 15 hours due to the non arrival of a crew member. As the Frankfurt airport closes at night, the flight commenced its journey bound to Colombo at 6.20 a.m. on Saturday.

As of the Air Passenger Rights of the EU, if a flight arrives more than three hours late at final destination stated on the ticket, the passengers are entitled to compensation.

According to the EU regulations, the passengers in a delayed flight between an EU airport and non EU airports with over 3,500 km distance can seek compensation of 600 Euros.

The distance between Frankfurt, Germany and Katunayake,

Sri Lanka is 8,087 km. Therefore, the flag carrier will have to pay 600 Euros (Approximately Rs. 96,960) to each passenger. However, asked from the spokesman whether SriLankan Airlines will pay this compensation for all passengers including the locals, he said he was not yet aware of this.

SriLankan Airlines later issuing a press release stated a service of a pilot had been suspended over this issue.

It stated the all the passengers affected by the delay were provided food and accommodation. “SriLankan Airlines confirmed that one of its Captains who was due to operate UL554 Frankfurt to Colombo on August 19 failed to pass a Breathalyzer, (alcohol test) carried out by the authorities at Frankfurt Airport in Germany. Upon receiving the results SriLankan Airlines took immediate steps to suspend the services of the said captain and took alternative measures to operate the flight to Colombo,” the airlines stated.

“SriLankan Airlines has a well-established strict substance abuse policy that is designed to put the safety of our customers and employees first.

"The Airline has no tolerance for abuse or violations of this policy and accordingly the Airline will thoroughly investigate this matter, whilst extending its fullest co-operation to the law enforcement authorities in Germany. The crew member concerned has been suspended and will be withheld from operating services pending the outcome of the investigation.

SriLankan Airlines would like to reassure its customers that the safety of passengers and crew are the paramount consideration of the Airline and will not be compromised under any circumstances,” the release added.

The airline also apologized to the customers for the prolonged delay on flight UL554.

When contacted, the Airline Pilot’s Guild of Sri Lanka, a spokesperson said she was aware of the matter but said she could not comment on it at this moment.

She said the Committee members of the Guild were on duty on board and therefore unable to reach until Tuesday.