AVIATION

Silverstone risks loosing aircrafts on contract breach

This comes barely a month after the airline sent home 17 pilots-eight captains and nine First Officers and crew as it battled operational challenges.

In Summary

• Elix Aviation Capital, the lessor of Silverstone's Dash 8 fleet is said to be keen to recover eight aircrafts.

•The airline is currently operating passenger service in Somalia for the local airlines(wet lease) to Salaam Air, Som Air and Maandeeq Air.

The Silverstone plane at Eldoret International Airport after it crash-landed.
The Silverstone plane at Eldoret International Airport after it crash-landed.
Image: MATHEWS NDANYI

Troubled low cost carrier-Silverstone now risks losing its Dash-8 aircrafts in the latest developments at the airline which is facing an eminent closure of its Kenyan operations.

This is as a result of breach of its aircraft leasing contract which has prompted its lessor to make a move on its assets.

The Star has established that Elix Aviation Capital, the owners of the Dash 8 fleet which Silverstone has been counting on in its passenger operations, is keen to recover the fleet of eight aircrafts.

 

“The Lessors are coming for the Dash-8. Apparently they’re in a tussle with them due breach of some contracts,” a source familiar with the inside operations of the airline told the Star yesterday.

Elix's majority shareholder is an investment fund managed and advised by Oaktree Capital Management, L.P. (“Oaktree”). Oaktree is a leader among global investment managers specializing in alternative investments, with $122 billion (Sh12.4 trillion )in assets under management as of June 30, 2018.

Elix Aviation Capital is based in Dublin-Ireland.

The latest twist comes barely a month after the airline sent home its 17 pilots (eight captains and nine First Officers) and crew, as it battled operational challenges after a series of mishaps. The notice to its pilots was effected om November 18.

“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 airline told its pilots in letters served to individuals.

“Seven pilots left Silverstone. The Director Flight Operations was demoted,” a senior pilot told the Star, “ employees who were declared redundant are yet to be paid their dues. yet they were meant to be paid their dues by end of November.”

Only seven pilots have been left at Silverstone, the Star has established.

 

If repossessed, it will drive the last nail on the airline's Kenyan passenger operations which have remained off since its troubles started on November 12, when the KCAA temporarily suspended all its scheduled services to pave way for investigations.

The suspension came after the crash of a Silverstone aircraft at Wilson Airport on October 11, and the falling-off of rear wheels of the airline's aircraft when it was taking off from Lodwar Airstrip on 28.

Though the regulator lifted the suspension on November 19, the airline is yet to resume scheduled flights in the country where it flew from its Wilson hub to Kisumu, Mombasa, Lamu, Eldoret, Malindi, Lodwar and Ukunda.

The airline is currently operating passenger service in Somalia for local airlines(wet lease) to Salaam Air, Som Air and Maandeeq Air.

It has remained with 11 cabin crew. The rest have all been released including engineers fired. Some have gotten jobs at Safarilink, the Star has established.

Basically, Silverstone are said to be opting to stop passenger operations in Kenya. Cargo operations however continue out of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Its cargo services are being served by the remaining Focker 50 planes which were part of its 11 aircrafts.

The remaining pilots were scheduled to be taken to Malaysia this week to train on the Focker 50.

Management could not be reached for comment.