INDIA MUST focus on facilitating travel as the world has started to take notice of the country due to its rise in recent years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday.
Speaking at a ceremony to inaugurate Goa’s second airport, named after the late Manohar Parrikar, former Prime Minister of Goa and former Defense Minister, the Prime Minister said: “As India grows, the world will be looking to India and there is a necessity to make travel easier and this new airport will help drive that cause forward.”
The remark about “traveling light” comes as India has assumed the presidency of the G20 countries and is set to host more than 100 meetings in over 50 cities across the country over the next year.
The prime minister accused previous governments of taking a “voice bank approach” rather than creating public bodies and said his government had put in place several measures to make flying easier. “We have introduced reforms such as the relaxation of visa requirements, the introduction of visa on arrival, new infrastructure to focus on connectivity including last mile connections through the introduction of several new trains such as Tejas, Vande Bharat and Vistadome coaches “, he said.
He said these measures have shown results and the number of domestic travelers in India has increased five times since 2015 – from 140 million to 700 million in 2021.
The Prime Minister also said that the second airport in Goa should have come sooner, but past governments have not considered people’s needs when deciding on infrastructure projects.
The state-of-the-art airport in Mopa will greatly improve connectivity and boost tourism in Goa. https://t.co/rY9M4OY6Z5
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 11, 2022
“The airport was conceived by Atalji (NDA government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee) but the project was shelved after his government lost. The project was only revived after 2014,” said Modi, who laid the groundwork for the airport in November 2016.
The airport – at Mopa, 35km from Panaji – was developed by GMR Group, which also operates airports in Delhi, Hyderabad and Nagpur, at a cost of around Rs 2,870 billion.
This new airport will boost tourism in Goa as the existing airport will remain closed for five hours – four hours in the morning and one hour in the afternoon – on weekdays. The new terminal is also expected to help lower air fares for flights to Goa due to new flight arrivals.
It will handle around 4.4 million passengers per year (MPPA) on a single runway in the first phase and can achieve up to 33 MPPA with two runways.
The airport will begin commercial operations on January 5, 2023. International flights will begin in March, officials said.
Panaji is now the country’s first capital city with two operational airports. The construction of two airports to serve cities like Delhi and Mumbai is planned. While Delhi gets a second airport in Jewar, Mumbai gets its second airport in Navi Mumbai.
Airlines such as IndiGo and GoFirst have already announced flights to and from the new airport. More flights would help lower air fares to Goa. While IndiGo has announced launching 162 weekly flights, GoFirst has announced plans to launch 42 weekly flights from the new airport starting next month.
The new airport is located in the northern part of Goa. About 70% of tourists flying into the state visit North Goa, which also owns 73% of the state’s total hotel inventory, executives said.