REDUNDANCY

Silverstone sends home 17 pilots, crew amid shutdown

Silverstone Air Services Limited says it has become redundant after the recent decision by Kenya Civil Aviation Authority to ground the company’s fleet.

In Summary

•Last week, KCAA suspended its Dash- 8 fleet from flying for seven days to allow inspection after a sequence of mishaps.

•On October 11, a Silverstone aircraft crashed off the Wilson Airport runway shortly after taking off injuring two passengers. 

Troubled low-cost carrier–Silverstone is getting rid of all its pilots and crew, with an imminent shutdown of its operations in the country.

This comes barely a week after the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) suspended its Dash- 8 fleet from flying for seven days to allow inspection after a sequence of mishaps.

In a letter sent to its pilots, seen by the Star, the airline has issued a month notice to its crew as it seeks to terminate their employment.

 
 

“Silverstone Air Services Limited has become redundant. This decision has been made as a result of the recent decision by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority to ground the company’s fleet, thereby grounding our passenger services,” the letter by management reads.

“This has resulted in irreparable damage to the company’s brand equity as evidenced by mass cancellations of tickets. The company cannot, therefore, continue to operate commercially. We assure you that the step the company has taken has no relation to matters of your individual productivity,” management has told its pilots.

“This letter serves as notice of redundancy, taking into account your notice period of one month as per your contract of employment. This Notice is effective November 18,” it concludes.

The move will now see 17 pilots (eight captains and nine First Officers) sent home as the airline joins the growing list of companies sending staff home. 

The airline yesterday maintained it has not closed operations in the country.

"We have cancelled scheduled flight operations following KCAA directive to ground Dash-8 fleet. Not all our operations," it said. 

More than 2,500 workers have lost their jobs in the last four months as companies blame operational and financial challenges. Some of the affected sectors include financial services, manufacturing, telecommunications, energy, and transport. 

“Those who were flying the Dash-8 have already been retrenched,” a source familiar with the company’s undertakings told the Star yesterday.

Last week, KCAA suspended eight Silverstone aircrafts to pave way for a probe over recent mishaps that affected the airline.

These include an October 28 incidence where one of the rear wheels of a Silverstone aircraft came off as the plane was taking off from Lodwar Airstrip.

 
 

The plane which was en route to Nairobi with four passengers and five crew members was forced to land at Eldoret International Airport.

On October 11, a Silverstone aircraft crashed off the Wilson Airport runway shortly after taking off. The Lamu-bound airplane–flight 5Y-IZO came down with five crew members and 50 passengers, two of who were injured during the crash. 

Other passengers were safely evacuated from the airplane with no fatalities reported. 

“They cannot operate until we come up with a report on what happened,” KCAA Director General Gilbert Kibe said.

Silverstone has a fleet of 11 planes.

Though KCAA said other makes and models of the airline (the remaining three) could operate as they have met the required safety standards, the airline seems to make no commercial viability on the small fleet.