SINGAPORE: A Singapore Airlines (SIA) flight from Melbourne to Wellington was cancelled on Saturday morning (Sep 15) after the pilot failed an alcohol test.
Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) had conducted a random drug and alcohol test on all crew members before the flight, and the pilot "did not pass the test due to having higher than suitable blood alcohol limit", said an SIA spokesperson in response to Channel NewsAsia's queries.
"The pilot in question has been suspended from all operations until an investigation is undertaken," SIA added.
Flight SQ247 was scheduled to depart Melbourne at 7am local time on Saturday and arrive in Wellington at 12.20pm.
The return flight SQ248 on Saturday was also cancelled, said SIA.
A spokesperson from CASA confirmed with Channel NewsAsia that there was a positive drug and alcohol test in Melbourne at the weekend. However, the authority said it does not comment on specific tests carried out or their results.
"Anyone who returns a positive result on an initial drug or alcohol test must not perform safety-sensitive aviation activities until the results of a confirmatory test have been provided," the spokesperson said in response to queries.
"They are not able to return to duty until they have been medically assessed, undergone rehabilitation if appropriate and given a medical clearance," the spokesperson added.
CASA said it carried out 12,130 drugs and alcohol tests on staff across a range of aviation roles in the last financial year.
Eight of the tests came out positive - three of which were for alcohol and five for drugs. Three out of the five drugs tests that came out positive involved codeine, a medicinal drug sometimes used to treat cough.
Some passengers affected by the SIA flight cancellation took to social media to express their frustration, saying that they were not informed for several hours about alternative arrangements such as booking a new flight.
"Probably my most frustrating experience in an airport ... just left the Melbourne airport after 6h waiting," said one passenger on Twitter.
"We sincerely apologise to those affected by the cancellation of these flights. However, the safety of our customers and crew is our highest priority," said the SIA spokesperson.
"We are currently working with those customers whose travel has been inconvenienced to find suitable alternate travel arrangements as soon as possible," SIA added.