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Mopa intl airport project hangs fire

Mayuresh Pawar  |  Mumbai/ Panaji 

The prospects of having a new international airport at Mopa in north Goa district appear grim.
Goa Chief Minister has kept the proposal in abeyance to carry out an expert study that would determine the feasibility of having two airports in the state.
"The Mopa project involves huge financial investments, and the government needs more time to determine whether two airports are feasible," says the chief minister.
Ironically, experts from the and the have already prepared the plan identifying Airbus 380, the largest passenger plane, as the model aircraft for the airport. This would mean that the runway would be wider than any of the runways of the existing airports in the country.
The existing Dabolim international airport is one of the few AAI sites registering profits. Close to 2 million passengers fly in every year.
Official sources point out that the charter operators are making a beeline for permission, but the limited number of slots is a huge constraint. "Parking space is available for just six aircraft at any given time at present," the sources added.
The report, which is now under the consideration of the civil aviation ministry, states that Mopa will provide service to the neighbouring cities in Maharashtra (Sangli, Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri and Kolhapur) and Karantaka (Belgaum and Dharwad).
The experts also maintained that it would be a 'convenient access point' for the Mumbai airport, which is experiencing air traffic congestion.
It is projected that Goa would get around 6.5 million passengers over the next two decades, and the plan proposes to design an airport for 10 million passengers so as to avoid congestion in the future.
As per the plan, the first phase with a single runway is expected to be completed by 2014. It proposes rapid exit taxiways to reduce runway occupancy.
While a detailed study of various aspects of the airport will be carried out over the next few years, the initial plan states that the airport will ensure fixed aerobridges to cater to all aircraft.
The airport terminal at Mopa would be designed on the basis of international check-in process time, which is about two-and-a-half minutes, one minute for immigration clearance and 15 seconds for security. This means that sufficient space for counters and access gates would have to be set aside to meet this benchmark.
It has also proposed to have nearly 20,000 sq mt of land allocated for parking 40 different types of aircraft. "Unlike any other airport in the country, a separate helicopter area has been suggested to ensure that their movements don't interrupt with regular air traffic.
Hangars for four choppers have also been recommended," the sources informed.
Besides, the Mopa airport will have duty-free shops, malls and other facilities in an area of 15,000 sq mt. In fact, the suggestion is to develop an airport city with a hotel, business centre, golf course, accommodation for employees and an elaborate road network.
The civil aviation officials pointed out that contours for this airport had been prepared by the ICAO, Goa government and the AAI. "Once this is approved by the ministry, a detailed study to look into different elements of the project will have to be commissioned and a funding pattern be agreed upon," they added.
The greenfield airport policy works on the principle that 74 per cent stake will be held by a private consortium, which will build and operate the facility. The state will provide the land, air navigation services and other related concessions. It will have 26 per cent stake with the Centre holding 13 per cent through the AAI.
The Congress leaders in Goa strongly believe in the 'wait-and-watch' approach, whereas Maharashtra's revenue minister, Narayan Rane made it clear during his recent Goa visit by saying, "If Goa doesn't want the international airport at Mopa, then we (Maharashtra) are ready to take it to Sindhudurg district. We have even purchased the land for the purpose."


First Published: Thu, January 25 2007. 00:00 IST