Mopa Airport Investigations: Will Dabolim Close?

GoaChronicle.com in its expose bring to you details of a feasibility report commissioned to ADPi by the Government of Goa in 2005 for stand-alone airport at Mopa. Subsequently, another supplementary feasibility report was commissioned in 2007 through ICAO for dual-airport system in Goa …

In August 2005, the Government of Goa appointed Aeroports de Paris to research and study the feasibility of a stand-alone Greenfield Airport at Mopa.

Following the agitation from people in South Goa over the Mopa Airport and demand for continuance of the Dabolim Airport– in 2007 a supplementary report was commissioned to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to understand whether a dual airport strategy was viable in Goa. In July 2007 ICAO presented its report to the Government of Goa.

Here a few details show that the dual airport strategy of the Government of Goa might not be workable.

In Para 3.5.1 of the report, the aviation experts’ state:

“A multi airport system can be defined as a set of airports that serve the airline traffic of a metropolitan area. For example Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted in London, Roissy and Orly in Paris….” It further goes on to say, “From experience in multi-airports systems, one of the most obvious observations is the reduction of convenience for connecting traffic and the cost for certain airlines to provide services at each airport of the system. Given the volumes of passengers, this situation may result in the decrease in optimal utilization of manpower, facilities and equipment’.

In Para 3.5.2 of the report, it states:

A necessary condition for the successful implementation of a second airport is the presence of a sizeable market. A high level of passenger and airline traffic will provide better conditions for the viability of a multi-airport system.

It further states, “The convergence of both passengers and airlines need leads to the conclusion that the successful implementation of a second airport needs quite high level of originating traffic. Based on the recent studies the threshold would be currently 12 million originating passengers per year.

(In the Amman & Whitney report (the appointed consultants to the Goa Government) for the Mopa Airport in its report talks about 4.4 million passengers annually. This is always fact that was highlighted to the media in a recent briefing.)

But the main part of the aviation experts report in is Section 4 of ICAO report:

Here in it states categorically that;

“The decision maker must recognize that dual airport system is the second best solution compared to a single airport…”

It further states, “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.”

The report also states that, “There is no question that a new airport will be eventually required in Mopa, when the enhanced capacity of Dabolim will not cope with the demand. The challenge is to determine when this capacity will be reached, assuming no additional land will be made available to Airports Authority of India (AAI) and therefore when the new airport should be commissioned, with what airport characteristics  and with what capacity.”

In the conclusion it states, “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.

The conclusion further encourages the Government of Goa to move ahead with the plans on the Mopa Airport.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation in Letter to the Government of Goa on 1st July 2000 further raises a few questions on account of its ambiguity to the continuance of the Dabolim Airport operations. In the subject of the letter its states, ‘Setting up of a new Greenfield Airport at Mopa in Goa – Continuation of Commercial Operations Dabolim Airport Civilian Enclave’.  But in its body it states, “continuation of civilian operations at the Dabolim Airport Civilian Enclave, even after the commissioning of the Mopa Airport’.

In aviation terminologies both have varied interpretations – while commercial operations would mean that it could cater to commercial airline traffic, civilian operations would imply that it would cater only to civilian air traffic like private jets or private aero-planes but not necessarily commercial airlines.

The question GoaChronicle.com is asking how the Goa government would sustain two airports. In the Greenfield Airport policy issues by the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) the costs of the new airport have to be undertaken by the state government along with the private investors or consortium they appoint via a tender.

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