Edit Corner

Awaiting Two Airports Feasibility: Mr. Parrikar

Early 2012, GoaChronicle.com had approached the new Chief Minister of Goa, Manohar Parrikar to address precisely one question, “How can Dabolim and Mopa both co-exist and be technically feasible and economically viable?”

At that time Parrikar had assured us that he would conduct another feasibility report as he too was not satisfied with the Amman and Whitney report. The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) report brings out several important points for serious considerations;

“Based on all the above parameters and recent findings on this issue, the relatively small amount of airport traffic in Goa does not provide a strong argument for splitting the traffic between the existing Dabolim Airport and a new airport at Mopa.”

Furthermore, “Splitting traffic between Dabolim and the new airport would impact the commercial and financial viability of both the airports if a succinct and comprehensive strategy is not developed prior to the implementation of the dual airport system.”

“It appears clear that the decision makers must recognize the fact that dual-airport system is a second best solution, compared to a single airport system to serve a relatively small air transportation market such as Goa’s market. It is however noted that there may be reasons economic, political and/or social that may call for the need to operate a dual airport system.”

Now, months later the CM seems to have forgotten his statement and is moving ahead aggressively to start the Global Tendering process of the Mopa Airport.

Interestingly, when I was studying the RFQ for appointment of Financial Consultant for Mopa Airport; I shocked to read the following; the document states that PPP Cell has decided to conduct a feasibility and financial viability of the Mopa Airport project, if found technically feasible and financially viable, the project maybe awarded on DBFOT basis to a private entity.  Leading me to raise a pertinent question, under what rational or assumption is the government certain that the project will be feasible without conducting the technical feasibility and financial viability of the Mopa project.

Contrary to the media statements made by the Chief Minister, Mopa Airport till today has not yet received an Environmental Clearance (EC). The airport in Sindhudurg (which some quarters are trying to fool the people of Goa into believing that if Mopa does not come up, the airport will go to Sindhudurg – Chipi Airport)

Chipi Airport has already conducted its public hearings for the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report; Goa has not even commenced its public hearings. As per civil aviation rules, only one airport will be allowed to go ahead. Distance between Dabolim – Mopa (Max 39 kms as the crow flies). Distance between Chipi – Mopa (Max 46 kms as the crow flies)

Some would like to consider looking at positioning Mopa airport as a Cargo hub, on account of the growing cargo business in the country. While I agree to that fact, that the cargo segment in the aviation business has a lot of potential, whether it merits the kind of expense and focus on a single airport, with such a large acquisition requires a proper study and feasibility report on its viability.

As per a recent study by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu on the Indian Aviation Scenario, India already has an open sky policy for air cargo. An air cargo hub is being developed at Nagpur by the Ministry of Civil Aviation. The ministry also has plans to build dedicated cargo airports across the country to cater to increasing demand in air cargo traffic. During the year 2007-08, the domestic cargo traffic grew by 11 per cent while the international cargo traffic grew by 15 per cent. The domestic cargo is expected to increase at a CAGR of 13 per cent during the period 2007-2010 while the international cargo is expected to grow at a CAGR of 14 per cent over the same period. At present India contributes over 1 per cent of the world air cargo traffic. We need to understand where and how does Goa contribute in this market space and whether it merits a separate full-fledged airport for this segment of the aviation business.

MRO services include engine overhaul, airframe maintenance, heavy checks and line maintenance, component overhaul and major airframe modifications. A major part of the MRO work for the Indian aircrafts is sourced to the service providers in Europe and Singapore. While airlines are increasing and strengthening their in-house MRO facilities, dedicated MRO players are also entering the Indian aviation space. The Indian MRO market is growing at about 15 per cent annually. The entire Asia- Pacific aircrafts and engine MRO market is estimated to touch US $12.90 billion in 2011. Recently, three different joint ventures between Indian companies and foreign companies like Airbus, Boeing and SIA Engineering have embarked upon setting up of MROs. India thus has a great opportunity to emerge as a major MRO hub in the Asia Pacific region. Here too lies a great opportunity for Goa to gain from especially if the state government will reduce the VAT on Air Turbine Fuel (ATF) and make Goa a hub for such MRO services.

But whether the government is even taking into considerations all these factors, is not yet known simply because they chose to remain silent on this issue. Even when we invited the government to a public debate ‘Dabolim-Mopa Conundrum’ which GoaChronicle.com had organised with our media partners Prudent Media and The Goan on Saturday, they cancelled two hours before the event.

To me it appears that Mopa is not an aviation business driven model, but instead it is real-estate driven model, therefore no one is able to answer the questions that GoaChronicle.com is asking.

Here are the details of some the real estate land parcels bought in and around Mopa.

8.16 lakh sqmts – Mangala Resorts

4.61 lakh sqmts – JM Township

4.38 lakh sqmts – Christian Farmland

3.05 lakh sqmts – NE Electronics

2.5 lakh sqmts – Leading Hotels

2.44 lakh sqmts – Beside Realty

2.17 lakh sqmts and 2.13 lakh sqmts by Enterprise Value Investment

1.08 lakh sqmts by Rajan Hatiskar

1.1 lakh sqmts by Pushpalata Samant

1.16 lakh sqmts by Prasanna Developers

Approximately 30 lakh sqmts of land by real estate developers in and around Mopa;

When GoaChronicle.com spoke to Alok Sinha, Joint Secretary (Airports), Ministry of Civil Aviation, (the man sources in the MoCA and real estate business say is the man driving the Mopa airport project forward), he states that Cabinet has decided that two airports will continue in Goa and that Cabinet decision is supreme. Clearly, going to show that eventually the issues raised by the people of Goa are of no importance; even the Cabinet decision talks about civilian operations and not commercial operations.

Mr Parrikar, the only way the Goans will allow the Mopa airport is if as you had stated a technical feasibility and financial viability is conducted. Opposition is coming to the project, because your government is failing to provide any answers to any of the valid questions raised by the people. Are you afraid of the truth in the questions? It appears to be.

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