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Pune airport shut for repairs, business houses stranded

Feb 06, 2008 01:17 PM IST India India

Pune: Chairman, Bajaj Auto Ltd, Rahul Bajaj's is upset. While other business heads like Mukesh Ambani and Ratan Tata will soon play host to a powerful 55-member delegation from Washington DC, Bajaj Auto Ltd will have to wait for their next trip.

The reason — the Pune airport will stay closed during the country visit. Bajaj has now written a letter to the Aviation Minister expressing his distress.

"They will visit Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi and Udaipur. They will go to Mukesh Ambani's refinery, but what about the auto sector?" laments Bajaj.

The Lohegaon airport, which uses the Indian Air Force runway, will be shut from February 12 to February 26 for repairs. The news is worrying not just Bajaj, but for many other business houses and airlines operating from here as well.

The airport closure is not just affecting the people of the city but also many airline services that had planned to expand business in city.

Over the last three years, the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation and the Airports Authority shortlisted two sites at Chakan near Pune for a new independent airport.

The first got rejected for technical reasons, while the other is dogged by its own set of problems.

Director Lohegaon Airport, Captain Deepak Shastri says, "First of all we are in a valley. We need to have a Greenfield airport, with huge land. We have to find a suitable place. Then land acquisition too is an issue."

Though repair is unavoidable, the latest crisis has once again highlighted the need for an independent airport in Pune.