Tarom craft
Tarom craft

A pilot has been prevented from flying out of Heathrow airport in London because he was "drunk."

The pilot for flagship Romanian airline Tarom was suspected of being worse for wear by colleagues on Wednesday.

Authorities at the west London travel hub refused to let him take off in the Airbus A318 as scheduled.

He has been suspended from duty, according to Tarom, which also vowed that the pilot will be sacked if tests reveal booze was the cause of the problem.

A spokesman said: "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 pilot returned home on Thursday and we suspended him from activity until the investigation is finalised.

"If official results we receive show he tested positive for alcohol, we'll immediately fire him."

Tarom is owned by the Romanian government. Under plans to secure IMF cash, the state is set to sell a 20 percent stake in the firm, which operates 23 planes. Currently, it flies roughly 2.2 million passengers to 54 destinations every year.

The episode is not the first time alleged alcohol consumption has caused pilots problems.

In 2010, Delta Airlines navigator George Le Perle was jailed for six months. Isleworth Crown Court in London heard he had got so drunk that he could not remember the destination to which he was supposed to be flying from Heathrow.

Staff at who stopped him as Le Perle as prepared to fly out to the United States, with 241 passengers on board, reported that he reeked of alcohol. It later emerged that he was an alcoholic.

A year earlier, an inebriated United Airlines pilot was held by police as he prepared to fly 124 passengers to Chicago.