SAA to quiz pilots and crew after UK dagga bust

Three SAA pilots and 12 cabin crew detained by British authorities for alleged drug possession were released without being charged, the national carrier said yesterday.

Three SAA pilots and 12 cabin crew detained by British authorities for alleged drug possession were released without being charged, the national carrier said yesterday.

South African Airways (SAA) spokesman Robyn Chalmers said the 15 employees were released yesterday and the airline was arranging to get them back to SA.

The group would not be suspended but would be interviewed by the airline

"They haven't been suspended. They will come back and SAA will interview them before any action is decided on," she said.

"SAA is cooperating fully with UK authorities. The airline has also launched an investigation involving SAA Aviation Security and the SAPS crime intelligence unit.

"SAA has a zero tolerance approach towards the use of the airline's services for any criminal activity," she said.

Meanwhile, Airports Company South Africa responded yesterday by saying: "At all our airports, airline crews and pilots are screened like any other passenger. At Cape Town and OR Tambo we have a dedicated check point for all staff including crews and pilots."

But it said SAA has a separate crew centre with its own screening area at OR Tambo, managed by the airline.

The staffers were arrested at London's Heathrow yesterday after the UK Border Agency found 50kg of dagga in bags belonging to the crew.

The agency said the dagga, valued at about R2,1million, was found in baggage on SAA flight SA234 from Johannesburg. Later reports said 4kg of cocaine worth R2,3million had also been found.

Bob Gaiger, spokesman for Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs at Heathrow, said those arrested had been detained and questioned. - Sapa

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