It has also resulted in bringing out the dark side of the airlines and the airport authorities who do not have any concern for their passengers. Airport and Airlines earn crores of rupees on the travelers traveling by air but yet they do not have the basic infrastructure for the passengers who get stranded on the airport due to some unforeseen circumstances.
Recently, a picture of several asleep outside the Dabolim Airport terminal went viral, evoking sharp criticism about the Airport’s ability to handle or provide security to its passengers and terminus. Although the expansion of the airport has commenced, these issues are yet to be addressed.
According to the sources, exorbitant late night taxi fees are a major deterrent for late night arrivals, who would rather spend the night at the airport.
A photo of rows of people asleep outside the Dabolim Airport terminus is not only going viral on social media around the globe but has not only raised several questions about the safety of the airport and its passengers but once again put a focus on its Goa’s shoddy tourism.
According to The Goan, this picture has been evoking strong criticism, with some comparing the airport to a railway station and also making way for sarcastic comments such as ‘this is a new way to promote world-class1 amenities at the airport and a new fashion to promote Goa Tourism.’
The security agency CISF and Dabolim Police have also come under criticism for failing to keep a vital installation, such as an airport clear of people.
Various theories are being ascribed to the large group of people asleep at the airport. One official claims these were late night arrivals “We have also seen the photo which has gone viral on social media. They were passengers who had arrived in a huge group by a late night flight. We heard that a coach which was to pick them up had not arrived and hence, they were stranded and probably must have slept at the airport,” he said.
However, another highly placed source states that these people were trying to avoid exorbitant late night travel fares. “As far as we know, a large group of passengers wanted to go to a destination in the North. They were also looking for cheap transport, but there was no coach or a minivan available and they had to opt for taxis.” “However after 11 pm, taxis apply a 35% night extra charge on the fare and they insisted that the night charge be waived off as they were a large group.” In the event of the taxi operators refusing to waive off charges, they chose to spend the night at the airport and avail of the bus service early next morning.
The Police took a different tack stating that since that there was no bus service at the airport at that hour of the evening, this large group of people chose to spend the night at the terminal. While half of the large group slept inside the terminal, the other half roughed it outside. “The children wanted to sleep and there was no bus service at night. They could not afford taxis at night,” informed a police source, while also stating that the behest of the passengers who had a large number of children with them, the CISF allowed them to rest at the airport itself.
According to the Times of India, the existing airport sees growth of travelers between 15 to 20% annually and handles around 131 flights per day. Goa had also recently become the 12airport to have an airport operations control center (AOCC), which was expected to improve the overall efficiency of airport operations, by providing real-time information of flights.
According to a report in the Herald when in his inaugural address, at the opening of the AOCC at Dabolim Airport in 2018, AAI chairman Guruprasad Mahapatra had affirmed that AAI had improved facilities at the airport and are planning its expansion. “We have taken the Goa airport under the direct control of our headquarters,” he said adding that the refurbished airport will have modern toilets and inland X-ray baggage system.
He also assured that a lot of activities were on the anvil to increase passenger comfort. “Goa is one of the major airports and we are planning lot of activities in Goa to increase passenger comfort and passenger amenities,” he stated.
Although the airport is being extended to increase capacity, these promises are yet to be fulfilled. Infrastructure facilities like lounges or absence of bus services from the airport and exorbitant late night taxi fares have given rise to situations like these that reflect very poorly on the State’s tourism.