Thursday, June 29, 2023

Manohar International Airport overtakes Dabolim in connectivity in five months

The Manohar International Airport (MIA) at Mopa in north Goa started commercial operations on January 5, 2023.

The project had seen its fair share of issues, with court cases and then pandemic delaying construction. When it was finally ready, IndiGo became the lead player by launching flights to the new airport in an unprecedented manner.

This was soon followed by Go First, which is no longer in operation. Eventually, Akasa Air, Vistara and SpiceJet joined, with the new airport proving to be a blessing at least to Akasa, which did not have operations to Goa.

Five months after starting operations, MIA may still have fewer flights than Dabolim, in Goa itself, but is connected to more destinations than Dabolim. While Dabolim is connected to 15 domestic destinations, MIA is connected to 21.

Dabolim Airport is operated by the Indian Navy, which has an offshore testing facility among other assets. The airport is closed from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm on weekdays and the Airports Authority of India (AAI)-constructed and operated civil enclave has limited bays and terminal area. This combination means giving out additional slots to airlines is always a challenge.

A tourist destination thrives on flights which arrive between 11 am and 2 pm since they overlap with check-in / check-out timings. With the new airport, there was the availability of slots. While luxury resorts are in the south of the state and closer to the Dabolim airport, not all travellers head south and that makes the new airport at Mopa attractive.

Goa is also undergoing a transformation when it comes to surface transport. When all new bridges and roads become operational, it will help one travel from north to south faster. A new airport which blends with the local style, has a large retail area and an uncongested runway and apron has led to some flights shifting from Dabolim, and not all are additional flights.

29/06/2023 Ameya Joshi/Moneycontrol

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