- IndiGo to launch massive 84 weekly departurea flights
- Go FIRST opens reservations from three cities – 21 weekly departures
- Oman Air to shift flights from Dabolim to Mopa in February
Goa will get its second airport starting January 05, 2023. The airport is slated for inauguration on Sunday, December 11, 2022. The existing airport at Dabolim, which is a civil enclave at a Naval base, will continue to operate. This will be the first instance in the country when the same geographical area will be served by two airports. However, Goa is a state and not a city.
The New Goa airport will be operated by GMR Airports – which also operates airports at Delhi and Hyderabad. The airport code for New Goa International Airport is GOX. The airport was to be operational at least two years earlier but the pandemic and delays due to court cases led to the opening being pushed to 2023.
Challenges with Dabolim
Dabolim being a Naval enclave, has priority for Naval operations. This means there are limited operating hours and the airport is not available 24×7. Besides, there is limited space to expand the passenger facilities. This has led to congestion at peak times – both inside the terminal and on the ramp. This has led to all new slots being put on hold and airlines not being able to add capacity during the peak hours. This also had an impact on tourism potential for the state, though some argue that the state cannot handle any more tourism.
The New Goa airport is located at Mopa, which is in Pernem Taluka of North Goa district of Goa. Northern Goa does not have luxury resorts, which are more towards the Southern part of Goa. However, Northern Goa is known to have some very popular beaches and food joints.
Interestingly, there will be six airports in a 250 km radius with Dabolim, New Goa, Sindhudurg, Hubli, Belgaum and Kolhapur being in the same area.
IndiGo announces massive number of flights
IndiGo – the country’s largest carrier by fleet and domestic market share has announced a massive presence at Mopa. The airline intends to start 84 weekly flights from Mopa connecting 8 destinations, just one destination short of its current count at Dabolim.
Not all are new flights in true sense. The airline is shifting its existing Pune Goa Pune flight to Mopa instead of Dabolim with a change in timings. On the Bengaluru – Goa – Bengaluru sector, one flight will move from Dabolim to Mopa. On the Ahmedabad – Goa – Ahmedabad sector as well, the morning flight is a shift from Dabolim to Mopa. The flights to Mopa from Hyderabad will be operated by the ATR72-600.
The Chennai – Mopa flights will operate by vacating one flight on the Chennai – Kochi sector, where it sees competition from Akasa Air. One of the Mumbai – Mopa flights is also a replacement of Mumbai – Ahmedabad, which was the inaugural route of Akasa Air. This is the first time that IndiGo has blinked in a competition with a new entrant.
It will be interesting to see if IndiGo uses the slots at Dabolim for connections from some other cities, since some of them are prime time slots which will be difficult to reclaim later and open up opportunities for rival Akasa Air.
Go FIRST joins in
Go FIRST – which has been in the news for low OTP in November and facing operational issues due to engine supply problems from Pratt & Whitney is also launching one flight each to Mopa from Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru with one daily flight each.
Oman Air to shift to Mopa
Omani national carrier Oman Air, which operates four weekly flights to Goa and is one of the few carriers to have access to Goa under bilateral rights, will be shifting flights to Mopa from Dabolim starting February 01, 2022. In all likelihood, the airline would have got some interesting deal from New Goa International Airport which prompted it to make the move.
The New Goa Airport is an interesting addition to Indian airports. Only a handful of airports can have as much market overnight. The last one which really attracted a sudden spurt of passengers was Darbhanga, but that too would pale in front of Goa – the party state of India.
What is surprising is that IndiGo is vacating some slots at Dabolim, including some good slots. What is even more surprising is that IndiGo is willing to reduce flights on routes where Akasa Air has recently started. Does one treat this as retreat? IndiGo has never done something similar in the past, especially when it went head on with AirAsia India. IndiGo was sure it was changing and with focus on profitability, it seems it is willing to take a backstep on certain fronts. Interesting times continue in Indian skies and Mopa airport will be a good template to see how the future would look like at Noida (Jewar) and Navi Mumbai.