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Pueblo of Sandia, New Mexico

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Pilots and business owners at Coronado Airport in Albuquerque hope Sandia leaders will allow them to operate the airport on an extended lease. Tribal leaders announced Sept. 13 they will close the 39-year-old airport Nov. 30 and possibly develop the land. They cited drainage problems and safety concerns. Wes Smythe of Skycraft Inc., which operates the airport, said a minimum one-year extension would give the pilots time to arrange for the construction of hangars to house airplanes elsewhere near the city. The airport sits on part of a 268-acre tract owned by Sandia Business Development Corp., owned by the pueblo. More than 50 people attended a meeting at the airport to discuss the closing with William J. Fisher, a business development specialist on the pueblo staff. Fisher said he would help arrange a meeting between airport representatives and pueblo Gov. Stuwart Paisano and corporation president Frank Chaves, but said he could not comment on the possibility of an extension. A chief concern expressed was the lack of hangar space for the approximately 95 planes housed at Coronado. The state Aviation Division has offered to pay half of the cost for improvements to the runway and related projects if the airport had a five-year lease, York said.