With Goa all set to open its new Mopa international airport to the public and international tourists by next month as announced by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, the focus has shifted to the Dabolim international airport, which is the fulcrum of South Goa tourism, whether it will be relevant in the days to come.
The airport, which is located in the Dabolim constituency on the outskirts of Vasco, has lately come under the scanner of the local governing bodies and whistle-blowers for several reasons.
The Dabolim airport is dogged by several issues. Some years back, the presence of dogs on the runway forced flights to abort landing. Also, the threat of bird hits looms large considering the MRF facilities and garbage treatment plant in close proximity. Tall illegal buildings coming up in the landing zone of the airport is another issue.
On Tuesday, Chicalim Panchayat along with the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) officials and Dabolim Airport officials conducted a joint inspection to see whether raw sewage was released in the natural spring at Assoi Dongrim area of Dabolim.
The GSPCB engineer later admitted that there was release of raw sewage in a nearby spring and added samples will be collected for testing. Appropriate action will be initiated after the outcome of the reports, he said.
A few months back, there were speculations and fear among taxi operators and people of South Goa that the Dabolim airport will shut down, but the arrival of charter flights has put a full stop to these discussions.
Russian flag carrier Aeroflot on Monday made an announcement of launching its Goa to Moscow (Russia) flight services from November 2, 2022.
It is learnt Aeroflot airlines will fly its Airbus A330 aircraft thrice a week i.e. every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from Moscow to Goa, offering 28 economy seats and 268 seats in business class. The airlines will also offer weekly cargo service, allowing 30 tonnes cargo from India to Russia and CIS nations.
S V T Dhananjay Rao, AAI Dabolim airport director, confirmed the new flight service from Russia and said, "Yes, Aeroflot is operating from Russia to Goa. Total 61 Aeroflot flights will operate from 3.11.2022 to 23.3.2023 every Monday, Thursday and Sunday." Commenting on the multilevel car parking, Director Rao said it will start soon.
Furthermore, responding to the recent inspection and allegations made against Dabolim airport by the local panchayat of releasing sewage water into the natural spring, Rao said "AAI is not releasing any untreated water in the natural springs". "We treat sewage water and use it for gardening. A slight leakage of treated water was observed from the pipeline. This leakage has been arrested," Rao informed.