Ten-year ban for Airlynx Express

Drivers’ hours and tachograph offences have led to the revocation of the 20-vehicle international licence held by Southampton-based Airlynx Express and its disqualification from holding or obtaining a PSV O-Licence for 10 years by Traffic Commissioner (TC) Kevin Rooney. 

The TC also disqualified the Transport Manager (TM) of the company and the associated Airlynx Parking, Tracy Ralph, from acting as such for one year.

The TC imposed conditions on the three-vehicle licence held by Airlynx Parking that only two vehicles, which must not have more than 16 passenger seats, be operated at any one time. He disqualified its former TM Keith Trenchard, who was the de facto Managing Director of both companies, from acting as such indefinitely.

In June, Airlynx Express pleaded guilty to four hours and tachograph offences, being fined £10,000 with £2,000 costs. Eleven former drivers were fined a total of £13,000 with £7,500 costs for hours and tachograph offences, including 23 falsifications [routeone/Court Report/ 27 June].

In his decision, the TC said that Steven Brockwell was the sole statutory director of both companies during the period of the main DVSA investigation.

Whether he failed to execute his statutory duties through absence or through malign engagement made little difference. Either way, he acted recklessly.

Dangerous practices developed unchecked as a result. Mr Brockwell was clearly a successful businessman. However, PSV operation was rarely a place for profit-focused entrepreneurs.

Mr Trenchard was not a statutory director. It was common ground that he was left to run the business and his actions could not be separated from those of the company.

Airlynx Express was encouraged to grow rapidly from 2014 to, at least, the end of 2016. Focus was on growth and not on compliance.

The latest Foster Tachographs report identified nine occasions when work was scheduled for drivers that was impossible to complete on time. That was all now domestic work. The problems had not gone away with the loss of the international tour operations.

This was a company that had, routinely and over years, expected its drivers to break the rules. The latest Foster report was produced during the period in which the company was preparing for a Public Inquiry. If ever compliance would be expected to be absolute, it was in that period.

Ms Ralph did not exercise continuous and effective management while Mr Trenchard was in place and the most recent investigation showed that she had failed to turn matters around sufficiently. The failings under her tenure were so grave and her responsibility for them, through inaction, so clear that it was inevitable that her repute was forfeit.

In regard to Airlynx Parking, he was satisfied that most of the matters raised against it in the DVSA report had fallen away. He was told it rarely used PSVs, but it needed authority for two minibuses on occasion.

An appropriate action would be to downgrade the licence to restricted as it had a clear main occupation. 

Following his decision in relation to Ms Ralph, the firm was without professional competence. He was allowing it a period of grace of three months either for the specification of a new TM or for application and grant of a new restricted licence.