Airlifting of Covishield Vaccine to Continue During Closure of Pune Airport this Month: IAF

Pune: The Indian Air Force has said it will ensure that transportation of Covishield vaccine is not be disrupted during a planned 14-day closure of the Pune International Airport’s runway. The airport here in Maharashtra will remain closed from October 16 to 29 as the IAF will be undertaking runway resurfacing work, the airport authorities informed on Tuesday.

The aerodrome is part of the the Air Force’s Lohegaon base. “During the period of complete closure of the runway, the IAF will ensure airlift of vaccines from Pune to Mumbai by deploying suitable IAF assets for the purpose to ensure uninterrupted supply chain,” the IAF said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Pune-headquartered Serum Institute of India (SII) has collaborated with the Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for manufacturing the Covishield vaccine against coronavirus. “As per the present plan, the flight operations would resume from October 30, 2021, before Diwali festival,” the IAF stated.

It said resurfacing was urgently needed to deal with the rapidly deteriorating condition of the runway and associated operating surfaces, and the objective was to prevent any damage to the engines of operating aircraft. The closure was earlier planned in April, but “due to the emergent requirement for the transportation of COVID-19 vaccines, the Ministry of Defense had directed to defer the complete closure of the runway,” it said.

The work of resurfacing, other than that of the central flexible portion of the runway, was nearing completion, it said, adding that to ensure timely availability of runway post-resurfacing, complete closure of 14 days was “inescapable”.


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