Four Others Airlines May Not Have N.M. Booze Licenses

New Mexico isn't alone in its requirement that airlines have a state license to serve liquor on flights.

Brandy King, spokeswoman for Southwest Airlines, said it's the norm for her airline to have a license to serve alcohol in any airport it flies out of.

"The license that we hold for Albuquerque is standard for the other airports we serve," King said.

The state Regulation and Licensing Department on Monday barred US Airways from serving alcohol on flights in and out of New Mexico and announced that the airline didn't have a license to serve alcohol in the state.

Ed Lopez, superintendent of the state Regulation and Licensing Department, said Tuesday that the agency is investigating three or four other airlines that don't appear to be licensed, although they may be operating under the umbrella of another airline that is.

According to a document Lopez released Tuesday, five airlines and two train companies doing business in New Mexico have the necessary public service license, and some of them have been licensed for decades.

The document shows that American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines are licensed, as are Amtrak and Santa Fe Southern Railway.

Regulating alcohol sales by interstate carriers is part of the New Mexico Liquor Control Act, which says, "Every person selling alcoholic beverages to travelers on trains or airplanes within the state shall secure a public service license from the department on or before July 1 of each year."

Other states have similar laws.

Glenda Baker, assistant chief of enforcement with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, said Texas requires airline permits. And John Carr, spokesman for the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, said his state requires a license to serve liquor for any flight originating within the state.

US Airways admits it didn't have a New Mexico license when it served Dana Papst two travel-size bottles of Jack Daniel's on Nov. 11. A few hours later, Papst was driving the wrong way on Interstate 25 and crashed into a minivan near Santa Fe. Papst and five others died of injuries suffered in that crash.

The Federal Aviation Administration declined to comment Tuesday on New Mexico's action against US Airways, saying it hadn't seen the state's cease-and-desist order.

A spokesman for US Airways said the airline would comply with the order.

Lopez said the state has told US Airways it can apply for a state license to serve alcoholic beverages.

The process typically takes three to five months and includes public hearings by the state Alcohol and Gaming Division and the municipality in which the airport is located.

The city council sends a recommendation to Regulation and Licensing, which would decide whether to approve the license.

Lopez said the state expects airlines to comply with the requirement that servers complete training on such things as identifying signs of intoxication. Airlines, like other large companies, are allowed to do internal training, he said.

Lopez said that he's been with Regulation and Licensing for a little more than a year and that, to his knowledge, this is the first time an airline has been hit with a cease-and-desist order.

Papst was returning home from a business trip to Sacramento, Calif., the day of the crash. Passengers on the US Airways flight from Phoenix said a man they believed to be Papst appeared to be drunk even before the flight took off. Passengers have also said that despite Papst's state, the airline served him two travel-size bottles of Jack Daniel's during the flight, which he reportedly drank just before the plane landed in Albuquerque.

A few hours later, he crashed into the minivan carrying the Las Vegas, N.M., family, killing five of the six occupants of the van.



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