Air New Zealand crew assigned to fly stranded passengers home from Hawaii are understood to have been drinking and would have been unfit for duty at one stage even if their plane had been airworthy.
Although a 12-hour "bottle to throttle" stand down imposed on several crew does not appear to have prolonged the ordeal of passengers on NZ9, their behaviour has prompted a stern warning from Air New Zealand managers who say that a "small group" is not living up to the airline's standards.
"You are responsible for ensuring you are rested, fit and healthy, and available to deliver the great service our customers expect and deserve," airline bosses told them in a letter today.
The airline would not comment on anonymous claims some of two crews who ended up in Honolulu were out drinking to as late as 5am and were "trashed."
The standard staffing of a Boeing 767 is three pilots and seven cabin crew. There were two crews in Honolulu during the period of the stranding earlier this week.
In a media release today the airline said the delays with flight NZ9 from Honolulu to Auckland earlier this week were "entirely related" to ongoing engineering issues and challenges securing the necessary part.
"As previously stated we have launched a comprehensive internal review of all aspects surrounding the delays and our management of the situation, both from the customer and operational perspectives. This review includes the performance of all functions involved with the disruption, including pilots and cabin crew."
It was expected preliminary outcome of the review by the end of next week.
A faulty warning light which forced the pilots of the Boeing 767 to abort a takeoff on Sunday night (NZT) led to an ordeal of up to 56 hours for the 227 passengers.
They were left waiting for taxis following the Sunday night incident, struggled to find hotels and faced several false starts after returning to the airport.
Customers complained of poor customer service and communication from the airline, and a lack of sympathy from staff on the ground and offered $1000 in compensation.
The letter from cabin crew general manager Leeanne Langridge and pilots general manager Darin Stringer says crew must remain contactable, staying rested and ensuring they are prepared for a duty when the need arises.
" I'm sure many of you share our embarrassment at the way the actions of some of our peers have impacted on the reputation of our professions both with our customers and within Air New Zealand."
The letter follows an internal memo to staff from chief executive Christopher Luxon in which he said the airline had failed failed more than 200 customers.
"As chief executive officer I am ultimately accountable for this,".
In the memo Luxon said events like the management of NZ9 had a big impact on our reputation and the trust customers placed in the airline.
He said the airline had been let down by some of its 11,000 staff and and some suppliers.
Incidents that had been in the headlines recently included a standoff between pilots over cockpit entry, the Transport Accident Investigation Commission report into a potentially dangerous landing at Christchurch, the former cabin crew member accused of importing drugs sewn into his uniform, and the bussing of passengers from Christchurch to Nelson during the storm at Easter after flight cancellations.