'Drunk' Virgin pilot resigns   (London Times 30 Aug  1999)

The pilot of a Virgin Express Boeing 737 resigned yesterday after passengers complained that he appeared to be drunk in charge of the aircraft, which was carrying 122 people.

     People on board the jet, owned by RICHARD BRANSON, said that the pilot had seemed to lurch down the aisle and they described how the aircraft had taxied erratically down the runway. After an internal inquiry, the pilot, who has not been named, offered his resignation.

     The airline said that his explanation that he was suffering from food poisoning when he took command of the TV857 flight from Madrid to Brussels had been accepted, but that he had been in breach of procedures. Because he left the airport without taking medical tests, the airline was unable to disprove the allegations.

     Paul Skellon, a spokesman for Virgin, said that the pilot had overslept and arrived late for his own flight from Brajas airport on Saturday morning. He had then taxied the aircraft out to the runway, but had turned around and taken it back to the terminal after it was decided, after a discussion with his co-pilot, that he was too sick to continue.

     One unnamed passenger told the Spanish newspaper El Mundo: "The pilot seemed drunk  He was in a terrible state when he walked past us. There could have been a terrible accident."
     Passengers complained that the slow ride towards the take-off zone had been erratic and bumpy, with air hostesses struggling to stay on their feet as they went through emergency procedures.

     The pilot was flown back to Shannon airport in Ireland, where he lives, after an inquiry into the incident on Saturday. His resignation had been accepted, the airline said, because he had not visited a doctor in Madrid after he left the plane.
     Airport management in Madrid expressed surprise that the pilot had not sought medical help from the airport's doctors, either before he took command of the plane or after he had taxied it back.

The above is another example of the low standard of staff employed by Virgin Atlantic.

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