A pilot believed to be working for Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has been arrested at a British airport on suspicion of being drunk in charge of a plane, police said on Thursday.

Officers were called on Wednesday evening to the airport serving the northern English cities of Leeds and Bradford where they arrested a 54-year-old man from Pakistan, a statement from West Yorkshire Police said.

The exact circumstances of the arrest were not entirely clear, although the pilot was not thought to be flying at the time.

"At about 10pm last night police were called to Leeds Bradford International Airport where they arrested an airline pilot on suspicion of carrying out an activity ancillary to an aviation function while impaired by drink," police said.

"The 54-year-old man, from Pakistan, is currently in custody."

PIA did not immediately comment, while a spokeswoman for the airport said only: "We are aware of the incident but the matter is being dealt with by police."

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced plans earlier this month to sell off a 26 percent stake in the ailing national carrier, one of the poorest performing state-run companies in the country.