Pune Airport Shuts Down For 14 Days, All Flights Cancelled: Dates, Reason For Shutdown?
Pune airport will remain closed for 14 days from October 16-30 because the Indian Air Force (IAF) will undertake runway resurfacing work.
The runway will remain closed from October 15, 8 pm to October 30, 8 am.
Flight operations will resume at 8 am on October 30 before Diwali festival and 24-hour operations will also resume from that date.
The closure of the airport has various consequences for different people.
Industry Once Again Faces Losses
Airline traffic which was just starting to recover from pandemic-forced travel restrictions is now dealt another blow.
However, it may get a boost once the airport reopens and flights increase to serve pent-up festive season demand.
Travel agents are also looking at more losses since they were depending on the Diwali period for an influx of travel demand.
The Public Is Peeved
Travelers are frustrated since their travel plans during the festive season are now out of the window.
Many have taken to social media and raised questions on why it had to be precisely in the festive window that the airport had to be closed.
They criticised the IAF’s handling of the situation and have lamented the absence of a civilian airport which would have been more passenger-focused.
They also criticised the lack of sufficiently advanced notice, having broken the news just 10 days before the closure.
Another inconvenience is having to go through the process of getting tickets canceled which were booked on the dates the airport will be shut in.
IAF Responds: Runway Urgently Requires Repair
IAF has responded to the backlash by stating that the closure “was inescapable” because it had to “ensure timely availability of runway post resurfacing”.
The condition of the runway was “rapidly deteriorating” and so runway resurfacing was an “urgent requirement”.
The work would help prevent any “damage to engines of operating aircraft”.
IAF Responds: Why Now?
It said that it was not able to inform about it earlier since the exact duration could only be finalised after obtaining approvals from the Union Ministry of Defence and Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare.
The IAF was supposed to undertake the runway recarpeting work between April 26 and May 9.
But it had to be postponed by the Ministry of Defence to ensure uninterrupted Covid-19 vaccine supply as two important vaccine manufacturing units are based in Pune.
Times of India reports that those canceling their tickets will receive a full refund because the flight cancellation was due to an operational reason.
The best option for travelers is to travel to Mumbai and take a flight from the city’s airport.
This is also an expensive alternative since booking tickets from Mumbai will be costlier than the ex-Pune tickets.
However, it is also the only feasible option at the moment.