AIR SAFETY

Silverstone expects losses with grounding of its fleet

In Summary

•KCAA opened an audit to determine the safety and compliance of the airline following a mid-air scare on Monday 28 when one of its planes dropped a tyre while taking off in Lodwar

•This was barely weeks after another Silverstone plane skidded off the runway at Wilson Airport

The Silverstone aircraft whose wheel came off on Monday, October 28, 2019.
The Silverstone aircraft whose wheel came off on Monday, October 28, 2019.
Image: COURTESY

Silverstone Air has temporarily suspended operations aboard its 14 aircraft to pave way for investigations by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority.

“They cannot operate until we come up with a report on what happened that led to the fall off of the wheel,” KCAA director-general Gilbert Kibe told the Parliamentary Transport committee yesterday.

KCAA mandated that the low-cost carrier ground eight aircraft on its Dash-8 fleet for a seven-day period to look into a number of mishaps that have befallen the airline over the past few weeks.

“During this period, we will continue to work with our customers to help minimize any disruption to their air travel,” the firm said in a statement.

This may send Silverstone deep into losses as tourism hits peak season approaching the holidays, with the resumption of operations dependent on how long it takes KCAA to finalise the investigation.

“This will have a huge impact on our operations. However, our priority is to cooperate with the regulator. We have confidence that we will resume normal operations very soon,” Silverstone management told the Star.

A fortnight ago KCAA opened an audit to determine the safety and compliance of the airline following a mid-air scare on Monday 28 when one of its planes dropped a tyre while taking off in Lodwar.

This, barely weeks after another Silverstone plane skidded off the runway at Wilson Airport.

Members of Parliament had initially summoned Silverstone Air managers and state agencies concerned with aviation including Transport ministry leaders, Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) and Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) to a meeting on Friday.  

KCAA has further suspended two aircraft operators, Safe Air Company a cargo airline and Adventures Aloft- a hot air balloon operator due to safety concerns adding that they should not be used by Kenyans.

Prior to investigations, Silverstone had already suspended operations on three of its routes including Homa Bay, launched just two months ago, halting the firm’s aggressive expansion plan.

Having commenced operations in Kenya in 2017, the firm was initially forced to temporarily halt flights to Homa Bay, Wajir, and Lodwar due to poor performance along the routes.

The low-cost airline launched Lodwar flights in January 2018 and the Nairobi-Maasai Mara in July with daily return flights.

The airline started plying the Wajir route in June and Homa Bay in September targeting traders and tourists.