A British Airways pilot has been sacked after he told a colleague he had taken cocaine off a woman’s bare breasts before attempting to embark on a long-haul flight.
Mike Beaton, of Devon, is said to have told a stewardess about an alcohol and drug-fuelled night out in Johannesburg before his return to London.
The stewardess reported him, and BA delayed the flight until an alternative pilot could be found.
Mr Beaton was suspended and flown home as a passenger the following day before undergoing a drug test at Heathrow. Class A drugs were found in his system and he was sacked.
He was scheduled to co-pilot the 12-hour flight back to the UK after a period of rest in South Africa four weeks ago.
However, after revealing intimate details of his escapades over text message to a fellow BA employee, he was stopped from flying the plane.
The pilot described partying with two local men, a female Welsh holidaymaker and a young Spanish woman in the messages.
No risk posed to passengers
According to The Sun, he said: “We all walk (stagger) back up to the hotel bar for ‘one last one before bed’. Welsh and one of these guys is getting on very well, but she’s told him that I’m her boyfriend. Couple of drinks in the bar, bit of snogging, and then we’re somehow all on our way to this dude’s flat.
“I’ve lost my shirt somewhere and one of the local lads produces a plate with a few lines of coke. So then there’s a debate about whose chest is the best to do a bump off. That’s the story of how I ended up snorting coke off a girl’s t--s in Joburg.”
British Airways said no risk was posed to passengers as a consequence of the pilot’s actions. A spokesman told The Telegraph: “Safety is always our top priority. The matter was referred to the CAA [Civil Aviation Authority] and this individual no longer works for us.”
The airline sent out a letter to all staff members on Wednesday reminding them of its “zero-tolerance approach” to inappropriate behaviour
The letter, seen by The Telegraph, said: “We, and a number of our senior leaders, have been out and about in the business today and we know you feel as upset, angry and disappointed as we are about this behaviour, and the way it so publicly damages our company and overshadows the high standards that the vast majority of us deliver every single day.
“It is completely unacceptable for us to see our airline viewed in this way, and we are fully aware that it is not representative of who we are.”
It added that the incident should serve as a reminder to staff of their obligation to immediately report any concerns.
‘Airline is in shock’
An airline source told The Telegraph: “This incident is hard to believe. A First Officer is trained rigorously and knows the law inside out. Their job is to protect passengers’ safety, and this exhibited the exact opposite of that. The airline is in shock.”
A CAA spokesman said: “An airline must immediately inform us if a UK pilot has misused drink or drugs boarding, or being on board, an aircraft. In these cases we would immediately suspend the pilot’s medical, which means they cannot fly.
“In most cases, the pilot would have an assessment with an expert medical team and if they wished to return to flying then a comprehensive rehabilitation programme would be put in place. At the end of that process, the medical would only be reinstated if we were completely satisfied.”