Suspected drunk Romanian pilot halts flight from London

BUCHAREST Fri Feb 8, 2013 7:58am EST

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romanian airline Tarom cancelled a flight to Bucharest because the pilot was suspected of being drunk before takeoff from London's Heathrow airport, it said on Friday.

In a story reminiscent of Denzel Washington's portrayal of flying under the influence of alcohol in the movie "Flight", British authorities refused permission for the pilot to take off in the Airbus A318 from Heathrow on Wednesday morning.

"We cancelled the flight because one crew member was not physically fit to operate. His medical incapacity was tracked down in London during routine checks," the state-owned Romanian carrier Tarom said in a statement.

"The pilot returned home on Thursday and we suspended him from activity until the investigation is finalised."

European Union member Romania has pledged to sell a range of state companies under an International Monetary Fund deal, including a 20 percent stake in Tarom - which operates 23 planes - by August.

"If official results we receive show he tested positive for alcohol, we'll immediately fire him," the airline said. (Reporting by Radu Marinas)