NEW DELHI: The stage is almost set for the inauguration of Goa’s new swanky modern international airport, and authorities, including the state government, are waiting for a final confirmation from the Prime Minister’s office and the PM is likely to inaugurate the greenfield airport within the next two months.
The airport which was earlier supposed to be inaugurated on 15 August, coinciding with 75 years of India’s independence, had to be pushed back to 1 October for the inauguration “D-Day”. However, the 1 October “deadline” has also been missed, as the Goa government is yet to receive an appointment from the Prime Minister’s office. Sources in the Goa government told this newspaper that the airport will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and that the airport is almost ready.
“The airport is almost ready. Most of the testing has also taken place. The delay is happening because we want the Prime Minister to inaugurate the airport, but we have still not received a confirmed date from the Prime Minister’s office. But we are told that within the next 45-60 days, the airport will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister,” a senior BJP leader, who is part of the Goa government, told this correspondent.
Recently an IndiGo flight, A-320, landed at the Mopa airport as part of the navigation system testing, which is mandatory for commercial operations of the airport. The IndiGo flight which took off from Mumbai, successfully landed at the Mopa airport’s newly constructed runway, passing all the navigation tests mandated by protocol.
The Mopa international airport, a greenfield airport, is the much-needed airport that the coastal state is soon going to get. Authorities believe that the inauguration of the Mopa airport will not only boost tourism in Goa, but also in the entire coastal belt of Goa and Karnataka. The current Goa airport uses the Indian Navy’s airstrip in Dabolim for commercial operations and, therefore, has limited capacity.
The present Goa airport also has shut operations for almost two and half hours daily as the Navy performs their training and drills. The airport also needs to be handed over to the navy in the need of time and for the navy’s emergency operations, which affects the commercial flight operations.
However, the Mopa airport of Goa has been developed solely for commercial operations and would provide the much-needed boost to tourism and further development of the state. The foundation stone for this airport was laid in 2016 and was supposed to be completed in three years’ time. However, the project got delayed due to litigation in the Supreme Court against violations of green norms.
After the legal hurdle, the project was supposed to be completed and inaugurated by the end of 2021 and beginning of 2022, but has been delayed for several reasons. The project is being undertaken in a PPP model via Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer (DBFOT) basis. GMR Goa International Airport Limited (GGIAL), a subsidiary of GMR Airports Limited, is developing the Greenfield Airport at Mopa in North Goa. GGIAL will operate the airport for 40 years, extendable by 20 years, as per broad lease agreements.
The airport will be constructed in four phases and currently the first phase of this project is ready to be inaugurated. After the inauguration of the current phase, the Mopa airport will be able to handle 4.4 million passengers annually, which will further increase to 13.1 million by the end of the completion of the fifth phase.