'Drunk' pilot removed from British Airways flight to Mauritius

Alexandra Richards
The pilot was escorted off the plane by armed police: PA Archive/PA Images

A British Airways pilot was removed from a packed plane just moments before take-off amid fears he was drunk, according to reports.

The Boeing 777 flight to Mauritius on Thursday was delayed and the pilot replaced, BA confirmed.

Staff allegedly called police and reported that they could smell alcohol on the pilot and were worried about the safety for passengers on the flight.

The 11-hour flight was expected to leave Gatwick Airport at 8.20pm, but was reportedly delayed until 10.56 pm in order for a replacement pilot to be found.

An airline source told the Sun: "Cops rushed on to the plane and headed straight for the cockpit. The first officer was cuffed and led away."

A British Airways spokesperson said: “We're taking this matter extremely seriously and are assisting the police with their inquiries.

“We are sorry for the delay to our customers. 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”.

Speaking to The Sun, Sussex Police said that they were called to the airport’s South Terminal Gate 17 at 8.25pm and arrested a 49 year-old man from Harmondsworth, West London, who remains in custody.

The Standard has contacted Sussex Police for further information.