ROMANIAN airline Tarom has cancelled a flight from Heathrow Airport to Bucharest because the pilot was suspected of being drunk before take-off, a spokesman said yesterday.

In a story reminiscent of Denzel Washington's portrayal of flying under the influence of alcohol in the Hollywood movie Flight, British authorities refused permission for the pilot to take off in the Airbus A318 from Heathrow on Wednesday morning.

State-owned Tarom said in a statement yesterday: "We cancelled the flight because one crew member was not physically fit to operate.

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"His medical incapacity was tracked down in London during routine checks.

"The pilot returned home on Thursday and we suspended him from activity until the investigation is finalised."

European Union member Romania has pledged to sell a range of state companies under an International Monetary Fund deal, including a 20% stake in Tarom –which operates 23 planes – by August.

"If official results we receive show he tested positive for alcohol, we'll immediately fire him," the airline spokesman said.