Photo/IllutrationJapan Airlines Co. President Yuji Akasaka receives a business improvement advisory from Kuniharu Ebina, directorgeneral of the transport ministry's Civil Aviation Bureau, on Jan. 11. (Hideki Kitami)

The transport ministry on Jan. 11 told Japan Airlines Co. to improve its oversight over alcohol consumption by crew members after a cabin attendant was caught drinking champagne on duty, the latest in a string of alcohol-related scandals.

“This is a critical issue that could impact the safety of flight operations,” said Kuniharu Ebina, directorgeneral of the ministry's Civil Aviation Bureau, who handed the business improvement advisory to JAL President Yuji Akasaka.

“We must say that the series of incidents reveals a lack of awareness for legal compliance throughout the organization.”

On Dec. 21, the transport ministry slapped JAL with a business improvement order--which is harsher than a business improvement advisory--after a co-pilot was arrested in London in October.

The first officer failed a breath test shortly before a flight to Tokyo, which showed nearly 10 times over the legal alcohol limit.

“We deeply apologize for the string of scandals,” Akasaka said after accepting the advisory at the transport ministry. “We will strive to bolster our countermeasures.”

The case of the flight attendant drinking champagne came to light while JAL was developing measures to prevent the recurrence of alcohol-related incidents.

An alcohol level exceeding the airline's limit was detected twice in breath-alcohol tests she took on a flight from Narita to Honolulu on Dec. 17.

JAL was severely admonished by the transport ministry after a male flight attendant in his 20s was caught sneaking a beer into a plane restroom in mid-flight in May.