State Says: No License, No Alcohol
After learning US Airways
has no state liquor license, officials in New Mexico have ordered
the carrier to stop serving alcohol on all its flights while over
the Land of Enchantment.
The situation came to a head as state officials investigated a
fatal automobile crash last year, in which one of the drivers was
drunk. The man had just arrived in Albuquerque, aboard a US Airways
During their investigation, New Mexico authorities found that
Dana Papst was driving the wrong way on I-25 near Santa Fe when
he hit a minivan carrying a couple and their three children
The November 11 wreck claimed the lives of five peoplem,
including Papst. One of the couple's children survived the crash
and now lives with relatives. A state medical examiner determined
Papst's blood-alcohol level was four times the state's legal
Ed Lopez, superintendent of the state Regulation and Licensing
Department, told the Associated Press, "We're interpreting it to
apply to all US Airways flights scheduled to arrive in or depart
from New Mexico. They should not be selling alcohol while in New
Lopez said without a license, the airline is "effectively
The state issued a cease and desist order to US Airways on
Monday. Lopez says all other major airlines operating in the state
are licensed. Additionally, the state department of public safety
issued an administrative citation to the carrier for serving
alcohol to an already drunk patron.
US Airways spokeswoman Valerie Wunder said, "We're aware of the
order and we're going to comply." Federal regulations allow
airlines engaged in interstate commerce to sell alcohol while
flying over areas where sales are prohibited.
According to Lopez, the airline has two weeks to comply with the
order, then it may apply for a liquor license.
State authorities have also accused a Bernalillo, NM
convenience store of selling an already drunk Papst alcohol between
the time he got off the flight and the crash.