Will it be Dabolim or Mopa?

The commencement of Mopa Airport raises a huge controversy whether Dabolim will continue to function or not

Since airplanes began flying to and from Goa, Dabolim has been the only international airport in Goa that has played an important role as the gateway that connects us with the other destinations, be it within the country itself or with the rest of the globe. The Dabolim domestic airport was constructed in 1983; the international terminal was constructed in the year 1996.

Dabolim has catered to all the services required, being the sole airport that does not only work towards blooming the tourism industry, but also plays a significant role in the hotel industry and global trade.
Mormugao being Goa’s largest port will not be dismissed for the fact that most of the trade takes place there. Hence shifting or shutting down the airport will affect the economy drastically.
The proposal of Mopa Airport was suggested as the air traffic at Dabolim increased rapidly since 2013. Dabolim being a defence airport, it will continue to function along with some of the major companies with regards to domestic flying.

With the establishment of the new airport at Mopa, it has been speculated that trade and commerce will skyrocket. “They are giving proposals. Things are in process. Certain things are approved, certain things are in process”, K.S. Rao said. He said that Kuala Lumpur, Tel Aviv, Gatwick, Bahrain, Russia, Almaty, Manchester, and Muscat have sought approvals. Prior to Mopa airport becoming functional, all national and international flights for Goa were handled at the Dabolim airport, which is also a naval base. Only 70 flights land on the Dabolim airport on a daily basis since no flight landing is allowed between 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. Following the establishment of the airport, it has been speculated that the number of flights landing will double up.

But with great successions come great challenges, as well. Along with Mopa being hailed high for its triumph in getting approval from major airlines throughout the globe; the antagonists are against it, stating that Mopa lies in the further North, which could possibly affect the chain of hotel industries that are in and around the southern coastal belt. The tourism industry plays an important role in the development of a region. Hence it becomes significant to study the growth of tourist arrivals, in particular, and hotels, in general, as they are required for effective tourism planning. By understanding the growth of tourist arrivals and hotels, the government, entrepreneurs and investors can plan their activities more effectively.

The Dabolim Airport was planned and constructed in such a way that it not only catered to the security needs of the state but also kept the other criterions in mind.

Realising the fact that, the Goa government alone spent about `3000 crores on the Zuari project that connects the major cities of Goa to Dabolim airport, giving an easier and hassle free drive to all the tourists as well as locals. The main reason this project was taken on was for the sole fact that the airport will be accessible from any part of Goa.

More recently, the debate got rekindled after Transport Minister Mauvin Godinho made a public statement that Dabolim will be shut down if it does not get competitive in its functioning and Mopa gets operational. But Godinho calibrated his statement when the opposition attacked him on his stand.

Disagreements regarding naming the Mopa Airport
The Mopa Airport is soon going to commence, yet there is a big debate on deciding a name that will not only bring glory but also highlight the significance of the new airport. Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party suggested that, the airport should be named after Goa’s first Chief Minister Dayanand Bandodkar. As we are all aware of the great contributions he made for Goa. Bandodkar laid the foundation of a resurgent Goa in all fields of development – education, industry, tourism, agriculture, irrigation, roads, bridges and every other sphere of developmental activity benefitted from his magic touch. Thus the MGP was firm in its stand to name the airport in his honour. The current administration, on the other hand, wishes to name it in honour of either Manohar Parrikar, the former Chief Minister of Goa; Some want the airport to be named after Jack de Sequeira, the first opposition leader of Goa; while freedom fighters want it to be named after T.B. Cunha, a renowned freedom fighter of Goa.
But after long discussions, it was thus decided that they will refrain from using any names as it could hurt the sentiments of the citizens of Goa.

With doubts and uncertainty in the minds of the antagonists and oppositions, the Chief Minister made it absolutely clear that both the airports will coexist without any clashes between them. “Many have expressed concerns over whether the (Dabolim) airport will shut down. I want to assure everyone that even once Mopa airport is fully operational, Dabolim airport will not shut down (for civilian use).”

Along with the Chief Minister, Goa’s Tourism Minister, Rohan Khaunte said “Today predominately we are dependent on two markets, UK and Russia, and some parts of Europe,” This gave everyone a reason to believe that the current government is taking charge of the state’s economy which had seen drastic short comings due to the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic. He stated that the rough estimate of the domestic tourists that visited Goa before the pandemic was about 71 Lakhs, whereas the arrival of international tourists was 9 Lakhs.

Keeping in mind the current strategies, the government will go ahead with this plan hoping for better and larger response. Hence there is no fear regarding the permanent shut down of Dabolim airport, as it will function along with Mopa airport. Instead of it being a threat, it will in turn help secure more international charter companies. With work being distributed, there will be a significant decrease in air traffic. Therefore, more hours can be allotted to Dabolim airport as it is a naval base and can solely focus on such activities as well without compromising certain hours of the day. The date of inauguration of the new airport at Mopa is yet to be finalised, but is expected to start functioning by January 2023. It has been announced that most of the international flights, especially the Goa-Muscat airlines will shift its activities to Mopa airport.

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