Navy withdraws move to close Goa airport for maintenance

Panaji: Following talks with state government officials and travel and tourism industry stakeholders, the Indian Navy on Thursday called off its move to shut Dabolim airport in South Goa for civilian traffic for runway maintenance during weekends.

A Navy statement on Thursday said that future closure of the Dabolim International Airport — managed by the Navy and part of its INS Hansa base near Vasco — to civilian traffic and inbound and outbound charter flights would be done only after consultations with stakeholders.

“The Indian Navy, however, brought out that the runway maintenance is mandatory and will be undertaken in close coordination with all stakeholders. The step was warmly welcomed by local MLA Mauvin Godhino and the stakeholders who said the positive response will benefit Goa tourism,” the statement said after a meeting of naval and state officials on Thursday.

The meeting was co-chaired by Flag Officer of Goa Area Rear Admiral Puneet K. Bahl.

The decision to close down the airport during weekends was criticised by travel and tourism industry which said the closure would impact tourist inflow into the coastal state, where tourism season begins from October.

The state attracts more than six million tourists every year, including half a million foreigners.

The airport remains off-limits for civilian traffic for several hours every day when it is used by naval aircraft for training purposes. The base is home to MiG-29K fighter jets.