A British Airways pilot was removed from a plane Thursday shortly before its takeoff on suspicion of being drunk, media reported Saturday.
Having received a report from a cabin crew member who allegedly smelt alcohol in the cockpit, police rushed onto the Boeing 777 and led the 49-year-old man from the plane, reported The Sun.
The man was arrested and remained in custody as of Friday night, said CNN.
The flight was scheduled to depart at 8:20 p.m. local time from London’s Gatwick Airport on route to Mauritius, but the incident delayed its departure by more than two hours.
Passengers were aghast at the unexpected drama. “A number of passengers were open-mouthed,” an airline source told The Sun. “It’s terrifying to think what might’ve happened.”
A British Airways spokesman said the company was “taking the matter extremely seriously and are assisting the police with their inquiries.”
“We are sorry for the delay to our customers,” the spokesman said.
“The aircraft remained at the gate until an alternative third pilot joined the flight crew. The safety and security of our customers and crew is always our top priority,” he added.