(Last Updated on : 22/09/2010)
The Dabolim Airport is considered the only domestic and international airport, which is small as well as secluded, situated in a seaside in the Indian state of Goa. Basically it is a military airbase also functioning as a civilian airport. The airport has a history unlike any other Indian airports. The Dabolim Airport was onstructed during the 1950s by the government of the Estado da `India Portuguesa. The local airline TAIP Transportes Aéreos da Índia Portuguesa was served by the airport till 1961. This airline served Karachi, Mozambique, Timor, and other destinations on a regular basis.
By 1962, the Dabolim Airport was absorbed by the Indian Navy`s air wing. After a booming military operation in Goa, the airport was handed over by Major General K.P. Candeth to the Indian Navy. Later the airport was handed over to the state military government. According to an account, today 700 flights per year of which 90% constitutes the international chartered tourist flights, are served by this airport. About 150 to 200 thousand foreign tourists arrive at Dabolim on charter flights.
As the Indian Navy runs its operations in the airport, the revenue the airport earns, goes for the aircraft movements account. Landing fee is Rs 17,000 each. They also receive aircraft parking fees of Rs 10,000 per day. The airport also gets a part of the passenger service fee which is shared between the Navy people and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF). Considering this, it can be said that the Dabolim Airport is one of only a dozen "profitable" airports under the Airports Authority of India (AAI). AAI usually controls the Capital expenditures (such as runway expansion) of the airport.
The Dabolim Airport is under plans of upgradation by the Indian Civil Aviation Ministry, which includes `constructing a new international passenger terminal (after altering the existing one to domestic) and adding several more aircraft stands over an area of about 4 hectares`. The airport is spreaded over over 688 hectares. The domestic terminal of the airport has been designed in a manner that can process 350 arrivals and departures simultaneously and the international terminal has a capacity of 250 at a time. For security purposes the airport has 250 paramilitary personnel posted. The airport has also parking provisions for 84 cars and 8 buses other than staff vehicles. The civilian flight traffic has a very large concentration within the time period of 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm during weekdays. There is restrictions in traffic for military flight training purposes.
According to statistics, a total of 7584 aircraft movements took place in 1999 while it increased to 7,957 in 2000. By 2005 the number of passengers had leaped up to 987,690 both in domestic and international arenas. In terms of passenger traffic, the Dabolim Airport is counted amongst the top ten in the country. Dabolim Airport is connected to only 8 or 9 Indian airports out of the 132 present. Air India (Bangalore, Kozikode, Chennai, Delhi, Kuwait, Mumbai, Sharjah); Air India Express (Dubai, Kochi); Deccan (Bangalore, Belgaum, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai); GoAir (Mumbai); IndiGo Airlines (Hyderabad, Kochi, Mumbai); Jet Airways (Bangalore, Mumbai); JetLite (Ahmedabad, Delhi, Mumbai); Kingfisher Airlines (Bangalore, Delhi, Kochi, Kozhikode, Mumbai, Mangalore, Thiruvananthapuram); Spicejet (Delhi, Mumbai); SriLankan Airlines (Colombo); Transaero (Moscow-Domodedovo) are the airlines destined for the Dabolim airport.
International flights from the Dabolim Airport are very irregular. International flights are only directed to the Persian Gulf region. Recently SriLankan Airlines started operating the Airbus A320s to Goa twice a week. Occasionally charter airlines like Arkefly,Condor Airlines,Monarch Airlines, Novair, Thomsonfly and XL Airways operates flights to and from Goa. As the Civil Aviation Ministry has loosened the policies regarding chartered flights, availability of these flights have increased. Chartered flights are available back and forth from the United Kingdom, Europe, and Russia. Other than civilian air traffic, the Dabolim airport also serves the purpose of military flight training. This training is carried out 5 days a week from 0830 hrs to 1300 hrs. The military flight training also is operated on two of these days, in the evening from 1900 hrs to 2030 hrs. During this training period there is restriction in the operation of civilian flights.
The Dabolim Airport is well connected to the city. Availability of taxis, buses, trains, or automobiles is sufficient to reach the airport. One can get down at the city of Vasco da Gama, located at a distance of approximately 4 km from the airport. The Chicalim Bus stop is the nearest landmark, about 1.5 km from the airport. Local mini-bus service is also available to reach the airport. There are pre-paid taxis available for communication. Railway tracks of Indian Railways also run beside the airport. Konkan Railways caters services to Margao (Madgaon) in South Goa, Thivim or Tivim in North Goa, Karmali, and Ponda.