Mopa is yet to take off, but South Goa is watching a ‘tourism famine’

October 29, 2022 | 06:38 IST

Mopa is yet to take off, but South Goa is watching a ‘tourism famine’

Several hotels and resorts catering to international tourists in the district are reporting cancellations in their reservations; tourist traffic will never increase to the point of making two airports in the state viable, experts say


PANJIM: Mopa International Airport is set to take off soon, but the coastal state’s southern district is already seeing a drop in tourism with several hotels and resorts catering to international tourists reporting cancellations in their bookings. The reason attributed to these cancellations is that some airlines have announced the diversion of their flights to the new airport.

Experts believe tourist traffic will never increase to the point of making two airports in the state viable.

Dabolim and Mopa is the first two-airport model in the country which will now be put to the test.

It can be recalled that the ADPI (Aeroports of Paris Engineering) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) following a study on the double airports declared that two airports for Goa are not recommended.

Activists opposing Mopa airport and demanding the retention of Dabolim airport have reiterated their position that the new Greenfield airport will deal a mortal blow to the tourism industry and the livelihoods of thousands of Goans dependent on tourism.

Now, as the commissioning of Mopa airport nears, hopes that Dabolim airport will remain open for civilian aircraft are looking dim.

Middle East-based carrier Oman Air has already announced its decision to transfer its operations to Mopa from January 1 next year.

By this gesture, Oman Air abandoned Dabolim airport even before the commissioning of the giant aerodrome.

Now some domestic airlines have also started turning their backs on Dabolim. Shaheed Bhagat Singh International Airport (SBSI), Chandigarh, has announced its winter schedule, adding two new flights to Goa, which will soon land at Mopa airport.

Aviation industry experts say that without a proper plan for Mopa, the viability of two airports is questionable.

Vito Gomes, a service provider to over 3,000 airports around the world, shared his thoughts on the viability of two airports in Goa.

“Passenger footfall will increase but it will never increase enough by having two operational airports in Goa,” Gomes warned.

“There must be long and short term plans for Mopa Airport. There is no registered plan. The answers should have been there before Mopa Airport went into operation. In the current situation, without proper roadmap, two airports would not be viable for Goa,” he said.

Gomes further added that a five-minute plane trip from Mopa to Dabolim will have a huge impact on airline costs. No airline will operate out of two airports at the same time. Connectivity, ancillary services if some airlines only fly Dabolim or only Mopa are also questionable at present.

“What I feel is that the moment they see that the two airports are not viable for operation, they will automatically abandon operations at Dabolim and allow the Navy to take over and subsequently to end the civilian airport enclave,” Gomes warned.

Dixon Vaz, Vice President of the Small and Medium Hotel Association, said: “Political statements will not help tourism in South Goa. With the commissioning of Mopa Airport, we are witnessing a tourism famine in South Goa. The government won’t have much to say when it comes to international airlines. Already so many tourists have started canceling reservations at hotels in South Goa and the worst is yet to come,” he warned.

“Without synergy between all tourism players like hotels, tour operators and taxis, the slow death of Dabolim is inevitable,” said Vaz, who is also Cavelossim Sarpanch.

Abhijit Prabhudesai, who worked as chief electrical engineer at Dubai International Airport, said: “This is the end of the tourism industry and the end of international tourism in the state. International tourism is a very sensitive sector. Mopa airport will require higher handling cost as it is a private airport,” said Prabhudesai, an activist and member of Goans For Dabolim Only.

“We said that Mopa is the biggest land scam in the history of India. The government had conducted a study through ADPI and ICAO in 2005 and 2007 on dual airports. The study had stated that dual airports are not recommended for Goa,” Prabhudesai recalled.

“It is a private airport and there is no obligation to employ locals. In the end, no local will end up finding a job because almost 10,000 people, who depended on agriculture, have lost their livelihoods,” Prabhudesai said.

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