Just 50 minutes before a flight from London to Japan was scheduled to depart, the pilot was arrested for having nearly 10 times the legal amount of alcohol allowed in his system.
The flight was operated in a Boeing 777 aircraft which can hold uto 244 passengers.
Following the Japan Airlines incident, Japan's transport ministry issued a document directed at all Japanese airlines calling for the implementation of measures to control excessive drinking by flight crew.
The drink-drive limit in England is 80 milligrams. It apologized today for the incident.
After being arrested, he was required to undergo a blood test which revealed his alcohol level.
'We are certain (the in-house breath test) wasn't conducted properly, ' Muneaki Kitahara, JAL's head of communications, told a press conference.
A Japan Airlines plane is seen at Tokyo's Haneda airport on July 24, 2018.
In June an experienced British Airways pilot was jailed for eight months for being caught on duty while more than four times the alcohol limit.
Under its internal rules, JAL limits two-pilot flights to routes of up to 12 hours.
The last-minute sickie forced the airline to delay five flights linking Okinawa island and smaller regional islands, affecting 619 passengers.