'During the period of complete closure of the runway, IAF will ensure airlift of vaccines from Pune to Mumbai by deploying suitable IAF assets for the purpose, to ensure uninterrupted supply chain,' said the statement.
At the receiving end for scheduling a 14-day shutdown of the Pune Airport ahead of the festival season at a short notice, the Indian Air Force has clarified that the “complete closure of 14 days was inescapable”. In a statement, the AIF has also said that the tentative dates of the closure were intimated to airline officials, and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) in advance but the exact duration could only be finalised after obtaining the approvals from Union Ministry of Defence and Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare.
The AIF has also said that during the time of the closure, it will ensure airlift of vaccines from Pune to Mumbai Airport by deploying its machinery to ensure an uninterrupted supply chain of vaccines.
“To address the issue of the rapidly deteriorating condition of the runway and associated operating surfaces at Air Force Station Pune runway resurfacing was an urgent requirement. The aim is to prevent any damage to engines of operating aircraft,” said the IAF statement. statement.
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IAF said that it had earlier planned the closure in April-May 2021 but was deferred after MOD asked to do so to avoid disruption of vaccine supply as two important vaccine manufacturing units are Pune based.
“Partial closure of runway was undertaken at Pune for a period of 12 hours daily during night, to cause least possible disturbance to civil aviation for a period of one year from 26 October 2020 to 25 October 2021, during which time the work progressed. A 14 days complete closure was also planned from 26 April 2021 till 09 May 2021 to undertake the resurfacing of central bitumen portion of the runway. However, due to the emergent requirement for transportation of COVID-19 vaccine, Ministry of Defence had directed to defer the complete closure of runway,” it said.
The IAF said that the airport will resume its operations on October 30, a few days before Diwali.
“The tentative period of closure was intimated to all airline operators, local Airport Director and Airports Authority of India CHQ, well in advance. However, the exact dates of closure from 16 to 29 October 2021 could be promulgated only after the requisite approvals were obtained from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of Defence. As per the present plan, flight operations would resume from 30 October 2021, before the Diwali festival,” it said.
“During the period of complete closure of the runway, IAF will ensure airlift of vaccines from Pune to Mumbai by deploying suitable IAF assets for the purpose, to ensure uninterrupted supply chain,” said the statement.
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