Silverstone airplanes taken off the skies over mishaps
Silverstone Air has hit financial turbulence after Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) grounded eight of its active Dash-8 series for a week.
The move digs a hole in the troubled airline’s balance sheet as it continues to cave under depressed passenger bookings over safety concerns of its fleet.
KCAA purged the airline, one of the biggest domestic carriers, after reviewing its Dash-8’s safety systems, management and operational control and its airworthiness programmes.
“Silverstone Air is in breach of several 2018 civil aviation regulations,” the authority’s director general Gilbert Kibe told the National Assembly Transport committee.
Consequently, Silverstone has temporarily suspended all scheduled services effective of the affected fleet from November 12, 2019.
“During this period, we will continue to work with our customers to help minimise any disruption to their travel. We are in the process of contacting all our clients to re-protect them,” it said in statement.
Silverstone operates 14 planes – six Fokker 50’s, four Dash 8-100s, three Dash 8-300s and one CRJ-200.
It operates scheduled, charter and cargo flights to Kisumu, Mombasa, Lamu, Eldoret, Malindi, Lodwar and Ukunda. It has, however, halted flights to Homa Bay, Wajir and Lodwar due to depressed bookings.
Meanwhile, KCAA has also suspended the operations of Safe Air Company and Adventure Aloft after investigations revealed safety fears.
But Silverstone has suffered the biggest casualty with the grounding of its Dash-8 series which has a combined 400 passenger load per single route flight per day, since plane carries 50.
Per round trip, the aircraft flies maximum of 100 passengers meaning it will lose 800 passengers per day from the eight planes if all the flights are fully booked – a possibility in this high tourist season.
Silverstone is now being forced to transfer their pre-booked tickets to other airlines who will now have a field day over its turbulence.
Appearing before the Transport committee on Tuesday, KCAA, Kenya Aviation Authority (KAA) and the Transport Ministry were hard pressed to explain the recent air mishaps. MPs gave them a month to table detailed reports on air accidents and incidents over the past decade.
“We need that report as soon as possible because we are talking about the safety of Kenyans,” said transport committee chair and Pokot South Member of Parliament David Pkosing.
Legislator also read mischief in KCAA’s move to single out Silverstone and produce a report yet there are several accidents from other airlines whose planes suffered technical and mechanical glitches yet they have not been affected.
But Kibe defended the agency asserting they were appearing before the committee within the context of Silverstone mishaps.
Legislators also put KAA to task over a Sh350 million budget it was appropriated to rehabilitate Wilson Airport whose runways are said to be dotted with potholes.
According to a report tabled in parliament, there has been an average of one aircraft mishap every month within Kenya’s airspace in the past two years.
Nonetheless, the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted a Category 1 rating under the agency’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) programme asserting it complies with international safety standards. A Category 1 rating means Kenya’s civil aviation authority meets International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards.