New Delhi: The government-run Air India on Sunday grounded its chief of operations Captain A K Kathpalia after he allegedly failed to clear a mandatory breathalyzer test conducted shortly before he was supposed to operate the airline’s London-New Delhi flight.

Air India had to call another pilot to replace him and operate the flight (AI-111) which departed after a delay of 55 minutes, causing inconvenience to passengers, an airline source said.

“We have grounded Capt A K Kathpalia as he failed twice in the breath analyser test. He was to operate the London flight from New Delhi, but he failed to clear the pre- flight alcohol test,” the official said.

“He was given another chance, but the second test was also found positive following which he was grounded,” he said.

Speaking on the incident, Air India CMD Pradeep Singh Kharola said that action will be taken against Captain Kathpalia as per rules. He will now face a probe by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

Rule 24 of the Aircraft Rules prohibits crew members from partaking any alcoholic drink 12 hours prior to the commencement of a flight, and it is mandatory for him/her to undergo an alcohol test both before and after operating a flight.

The prescribed punishment for such offences under the DGCA rules is suspension of flying licence for three months in case of first breach.

For violating the norms for a second time, the licence is suspended for three years and for a third time, the licence is permanently cancelled.

Earlier, Kathpalia’s flying licence was suspended in 2017 for three months by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for allegedly skipping the breath analyser test before a flight. Kathpalia, who has even flown Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the past, was subsequently removed from the post of executive director, operations.

However, he was later appointed to the post of director (operations) in Air India Ltd for a period of five years.