The tender for MIA was floated in 2016, based on the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model. Spread across an area of 2,132 acres, the airport was planned to be initially serving 4.4 million passengers per annum in Phase 1 and will to scale up as per traffic growth demands.
Operational since January 5, 2023, the catchment area of this full-service airport will be catering to domestic and international passengers, besides freight services for Goa and the rich Konkan region of
The airport would be handling the increasing tourist traffic load to optimise the Goan economy. Targeting 12 million passengers per year in the next 5 years with a saturation point of up to 40 million passengers per year, MIA is set to elevate on to one of the busiest airports of India.
On February 4, the airport saw 44 departures and 36 arrivals on a single day. Presently there are direct flights to Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Jaipur, Nagpur, Chennai,
Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Ahmadabad and Chandigarh.
The Nodal Officer of the MIA Pramod confirmed, “3500 to 4000 passengers are arriving and departing from Goa. The passenger movement to MIA mostly comprises of tourists.”
On January 8, the airport got its 100th flight, on January 11 the passenger movement reached 25,000, within another week the passenger movement at the airport reached 75,000 and soon it reached 1 lakh.
The Dabolim Airport being able to service international flights landing in Goa continues to handle much higher number of flights. On February 4, Dabolim International Airport received 83 flights from various destinations across India and the world. There are at least 8 to 10 international charters and other flights that are landing at Dabolim at present.
Narayan Rane, a prominent leader of Konkan Maharashtra and Minister for Micro Small and Medium Scale Industries while congratulating the Goa government on starting the MIA, had said that the airport will not only boost industry and tourism of Goa, but also that of the Konkan belt in Maharashtra.
Soon after its inauguration, passengers from Mumbai and Delhi and Konkan belt of Maharashtra landed at the MIA. This and several other factors are expected to increase the traffic at the new airport.
The increase in traffic however is putting massive stress on the existing logistical infrastructure of Goa. Today, there are five modes for reaching and leaving the airport. All of these are road transport which includes Goa Miles Taxis, Kadamba Transport Corporation buses, rent-a-cabs, private prepaid taxis and Goa Taxi App. Sources inform that as the airport completes one full month, the logistical issues of the airport still await resolution.
Probably this is one of the reasons why the concessionaire, GMR has gone ahead to float a tender for contractors, who will provide taxi services on call to the airport. The tender has been invited for multiple contractors who can provide 24 hour taxi cab services to the airport connecting to various locations, some of which are Margao, Thivim, Pernem, Karmali railway stations, Dabolim Airport, Porvorim, Mapusa and Panjim as well.
Reports suggest that there is a plan to begin international flights from March or April. The work of Block C and D of the MIA is still awaiting completion. These blocks will house the international flights and will be kept exclusively for these flights. Presently, Block A and Block B are operational and are being used for domestic flights.
While the work of the remaining two blocks has been sped up, various international airlines, including Oman Air and Indian Airlines having international operations, have booked slots at MIA.
Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) President Nilesh Shah said, “It will take a while for international flights to start operations at MIA. There is a need for international standard security, customs, and safety checks set up at the airport which is in pipeline.”
“Dabolim is presently servicing many chartered and international flights. With the opening of international flights at MIA, there will be more international airlines willing to come to Goa. More slots for arrival and departures will open, which will connect Goa to many other international destinations,” he added.
Shah also mentioned that as per airport and international flying standards there are summer and winter schedules that are taken as a deadline for booking slots at any airport. There are over 200 slot-coordinated airports in the world, which account for 43 percent of the passenger movement around the world.
The winter schedule of slots will be ending on March 26. On account of non-completion of the work, the flights will have to be reallocated the slots, which will change flight schedules and may have some impact on arrivals to Goa.
As MIA pushes the horizon of the influx of tourists, the problems of logistics still remains to be resolved. Except for the Goa Miles, there is no taxi app functional and serving the MIA at present. All the assurances that the government made before the opening of the airport have fallen flat.
The Goa Taxi App’s taxi engagement is hardly 10 vehicles. The app does not have taxis after 6 pm in the evening. The ‘Yellow-Black’ taxis or the newly pitched ‘Blue’ cabs could have proved to be handy to fill in for the gap of taxis.
Transport Minister Mauvin Godinho has said that he is not in a position to give an exact time frame on when the ‘Blue’ cab stand at Mopa will be notified. “I am not in a position to specify when the blue taxi stand at Mopa will be notified. The stand after giving reservation to five village panchayats in Mandrem and Pernem will be notified only after completion of formalities.”
Already the taxi associations from Pernem, who have been asking for a rightful counter, have complained that the government is deliberately delaying their request. To add to the deficit of the taxis, the Pernem local tourist taxis have not yet come on board as their demands are yet to be fulfilled.
Tourism Minister Rohan Khaunte, after holding a review meeting for MIA airport operations, had opined that there is a need for a consolidated plan to draw more visitors to Goa.
“We have discussed the ways to increase employment and revenue for the state. I have also mentioned specifically the need to create facilities and services to attract high spending tourists, private jets, freight movement and chartered flights,” Khaunte said.
He had also said that like all new ventures MIA too has some teething problems and attempts will be made to resolve the same.
Though the government has successfully completed and commissioned the fancy international airport, it is important to mention that a lot has to be done to make the project successful in all respects.
Most of the gaps that need to be plugged are outside the airport. As far as infrastructure is concerned, the Government needs to speed up the work of the blocks that will be accommodating the international flights coming to Goa to avoid the diversion due to reallocation of slots to airlines.
Secondly, there is a need to complete the link road flyover to the airport to ensure smooth flow of vehicles during the remaining touristic season. Third and most important is to make sure that the locals who have lost land for the airport are accommodated and given jobs, taxi business at the airport to avoid any further hindrances to the functioning of the airport.
Also, a contingency plan for the Dabolim airport needs to be prepared to make sure that enough business is there for it after full-fledged operations of the MIA takes flight.