Indonesia’s Ministry of Transport and the National Narcotics Agency (NNA) will step up checks on pilots and flight attendants operating in the country as part of their effort to curb drug abuse among airline employees. This initiative follows the arrest of a 34-year old Malindo Air pilot at Nang Hadim International Airport in Batam on December 30. The Malaysian national tested positive for methamphetamine during a random check carried out on 69 air crew by NNA at the airport.
Authorities also found crystal methamphetamine weighing 1.9 grams, together with smoking paraphernalia in his luggage.
A Malindo spokesman in Kuala Lumpur confirmed the arrest.
Indonesia’s minister for transport, Budi Karya Sumadi, said future screening will involve checks of nails and hair to determine whether flight crew had consumed any drug. “Safety of aircraft, crew, and passengers will not be compromised,” the minister stressed.
The pilot is the third arrested in 2016 by the local authorities. Early in December authorities detained a senior Lion Air pilot at a hotel in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, when he tested positive for methamphetamine. In June another Lion Air pilot, an Indian national, was arrested in Lumbok, West Nusa Tenggara, for consuming hashish. Drug offenders face 12 years in jail in Indonesia.
In January 2013, police arrested a senior first officer of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 747-400F at Sydney’s Kingsford Smith International Airport, where investigators discovered 4.49 kilograms of methamphetamine concealed in his luggage. The pilot was sentenced to six years in jail with no chance of parole for four years.