Aviation

AAI yet to issue charters landing slots at Goa airport

PANAJI: With the state’s tourist season set to commence next month and the first charter likely to land on October 4, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) is yet to issue landing slots to the charters at the Dabolim international airport.

Airline and charter operators, along with Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) members, met Union commerce and industry minister Suresh Prabhu to appraise him of the situation, on Monday, September 18, reports The Times of India.

Confirming that charters have not been allotted slots, president TTAG Savio Messias said the Navy has extended non-flying hours to Saturdays and Sundays.

“Earlier, non-flying hours (8.30am to 12.30pm) were limited to five days of the week. Now, the restriction will be applicable for weekends as well,” Messias said.

Earlier, charters could land at 8.30am and take off at 12.30pm, but now charters will have to arrive and depart late in the night, increasing expenses for tourists, the TTAG president said. He ruled out charters landing during the afternoon at Dabolim airport as the period sees heavy domestic traffic.

Explaining the impact the restriction will have on a tourist’s budget, a charter operator said, “Most charters used to come in on weekends. Henceforth, this will not be possible, which means staying expenses for tourists will increase by two days.”

“Recently, Oman Airways was forced to change its timings because of the new restrictions,” said Messias.

Tour operators were expecting charter numbers to rise by about 25% for the forthcoming season, but with the new restriction in place, they are not so confident any more.

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