Airlynx due before traffic commissioner after £10k fine

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Airlynx operates a wide range of vehicle types from Minibuses to fullsize coaches. JAMES DAY

Eleven of the operator’s former drivers are fined for various drivers’ hours offences, including the removal of tachograph cards

Southampton-based Airlynx Express is expected to appear before the traffic commissioner in the coming weeks after it was fined £10,000 for a number of drivers’ hours offences.

A spokesperson for the Office of the Traffic Commissioner confirmed to CBW that a public inquiry had been scheduled for the week beginning June 4, 2018, but has since been adjourned.

The spokesperson added that while the inquiry is primarily concerned with a DVSA investigation into Airlynx, the subsequent conviction may also be considered.

The Southern Daily Echo reported that 11 former drivers from the coach and minibus operator had been fined a total of £13,000, plus £7,500 costs, after admitting to breaking laws limiting the amount of time they can legally spend behind the wheel in 2016. Many of the drivers also admitted removing tachograph cards.

During mitigation at the trial, one of the former drivers, Leonard Richards, accused the management during his employment at Airlynx Express of using ‘bully-boy tactics’ to force its coach drivers to commit some of the offences – an allegation which the company denies.

The allegation was made as the company and drivers appeared at Southampton Magistrates’ Court charged with breaching strict Department of Transport rules.

Leonard also claimed the company took away his pay and VIP coach driving privileges after he attempted to report his concerns to managers. The 70-year-old later reported the firm to the DVSA, which launched an investigation. He was fined £750 after pleading guilty to four offences.

An Airlynx spokesperson said: “We are aware that as part of his mitigation, one of the prosecuted ex-drivers made allegations regarding working practices within Airlynx at the time of the investigation. These allegations are not accepted by Airlynx.”

Airlynx itself pleaded guilty to four offences, including having a driver work for 10 consecutive days when the maximum is seven, having a driver at the wheel for more than four-and-a-half hours without a full 45-minute break and having two employees fail to record parts of their journey by removing tachograph cards.

The company said it has cooperated with the DVSA in its investigation, which covered a period from June 2016 to October 2016, and had provided in excess of 4,000 records for review.

In a written sentencing, Judge District Anthony Galloway said the company had a ‘casual attitude to its legal obligations and its drivers.’ He fined the company £10,000 in total, alongside costs of more than £2,000.

DVSA CEO, Gareth Llewellyn, said: “DVSA’s priority is to protect you from unsafe drivers and vehicles. There’s no excuse for driving while tired. The results of falling asleep at the wheel can be devastating.

“Any driver or operator breaking these rules is putting other road users at risk. As this case shows, we will not hesitate in taking action against drivers and operators who flout the law.”