Goa’s new Manohar International Airport is expected to provide the coastal state an opportunity to become a regional air travel hub as it will have overnight parking facilities for aircraft, making it a potential base for domestic airlines to build a network based in Goa.
“To start a new airport operation with immediately 168 flights a week to eight different destinations and 1.5 million customers expected this year speaks to the potential in order to develop the base here as well and for that, we need parking positions and that is part of the discussions we are having,” said Pieter Elbers, chief executive officer of IndiGo, India’s largest airline.
With the opening of Mopa, Goa has India’s first urban centre with two airports. It already has an airport at Dabolim located at the Indian naval station INS Hansa. The civil enclave at the naval air base currently faces capacity constraints due to limited slots and congestion at the terminal. The airport is also unavailable for civilian flights for five hours every day.
Under phase one, the GMR Group-run airport will be able to handle 4.4 million passengers every year and the saturation capacity for the airport after full development has been pegged at 33 million passengers per year. The state-run civil enclave of Dabolim airport handled 8.4 million passengers in 2019-20, as per data from Airports Authority of India.
“The fact that the Mopa airport will be available 24 hours a day for civil operations and the availability of overnight parking facilities will be a game-changer for the aviation landscape in Goa, and airlines are looking at making it a potential regional hub on the back of high demand for travel to Goa and nearby destinations from across the country.
International airlines are also looking at Mopa as a potential opportunity especially. It is also very popular among Russian tourists,” an industry executive said on the condition of anonymity.IndiGo has started Mopa with 168 flights a week. Akasa and GoFIRST have also added Mopa airport to their network. IndiGo already operates 436 flights a week from Dabolim; so, the airline will operate a combined 604 flights a week from the two airports in Goa. The airline aims to cater to 1.5 million passengers in and out of Manohar International airport in 2023.
“The ambitions for Goa and the potential for Goa are big and will continue to grow and with that, we will be adding flights here, and whenever we have the opportunity in terms of slots and timings. We will add on Dabolim as well,” Elbers said.“Overnight facilities are something we are today exploring together with the airports once we have the opportunities, we surely would like to make a more permanent base here, also adding to other bases, that should be later in the year but not right at the start but clearly an opportunity moving forward,” he added.