Tourism stakeholders, Goans in Oman upset over Oman Air’s decision to move flights to Mopa
Demand that other airlines immediately stop following suit; fear that Dabolim airport will completely shut down its operations once Mopa airport is fully functional
MARGAO: State and Goan tourism stakeholders residing in Oman are upset with Oman Air’s decision to move flights from Dabolim Airport to the new Greenfield International Airport in Mopa from January 1, 2023 .
The move by the Middle East-based carrier is a blow to Dabolim’s continued existence as an international airport, which has tourism stakeholders in the state worried. They fear this is just the beginning of the end for international flights at Dabolim airport and have raised fears that in the future Dabolim airport will shut down operations completely once Mopa airport is fully functional.
It should be recalled that the airlines, in a communication issued to their frequent flyers, had stated that all Oman Air flights in and out of Goa would operate from the new Mopa International Airport from January 1, 2023.
“Dear Guest, From 1 January 2023 all Oman Air flights to and from Goa will operate from the new Mopa International Airport (GOX). Oman Air flights will no longer operate from Goa International Airport (GOI),” the post read.
Herald spoke to several people to get their views on Oman Air’s decision.
“My family often travels from Muscat to Goa. How much should we pay for the taxi service to come to South Goa? We are not tourists but locals and will have to pay high rates. My children had to travel separately and are used to traveling from Dabolim. This also worries me and so we have postponed our planned trip and would prefer to come directly to Dabolim,” said Raymond Fernandes, a businessman from Quepem.
“The authorities are treating this issue very casually as the consequences will be dire for those in South Goa who depend on tourists visiting Dabolim Airport. The airport has been welcoming tourists visiting the South for years. They are also said to be going to the north because Dabolim had a central location but once in Mopa most tourists would choose to stay only in the north,” said Paulito D’Souza, a travel and tourism agent from Colva.
Sagar Keni, owner of a Vasco taxi, said: “The government has misled us into believing that Mopa airport is for cargo and it will be a logistics hub.
Keni said: “In reality, this will lead to the transfer of airlines like Oman Air to Mopa from Dabolim.”
It takes an airline to start the trend. There should have been safeguards against that. Will the airport survive like this in a few years? What about tourism businesses in the South? Sagar Keni, a Vasco taxi owner interviewed.
“The government must immediately stop other airlines from doing what Oman Air did. If the government only declares domestic flights out of Dabolim, it will be the death knell for the airport and the tourism sector in South Goa. We need international tourists on this side – whether in quality or quantity. Places further south in particular will be hit the hardest,” said Avit Dessai, a restaurant owner from Canacona.