A thick fog disrupted operations at Dabolim airport on Sunday as the tourist season’s first charter and five other flights had to be diverted to Bengaluru and Mumbai. It all started when an Air Arabia flight from Sharjah tried to land at 4.41am, but thick fog obscured the pilot’s view and it had to be diverted to Bengaluru. Airport sources said that about 1,000 passengers were affected by the delay, and were stranded at various airports. According to the sources, Goa airport director BCH Negi said that the fog prevented flights from landing in the morning, and it only started clearing after 11.15 am.
A Jet Airways flight from Mumbai could not land at 4.26am. It returned to Mumbai airport. The third Goa-bound flight, Oman Airways from Muscat, also had to be diverted to Bengaluru, at about 5.50am. The visibility did not improve even at sunrise. After 6:30am, an Air Asia flight returned to Bengaluru.
The season’s first charter, Rossiya Air with 490 passengers, was supposed to land at 8am on Sunday. Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) had made all arrangements to receive the first charter, but after circling for some time, the flight was diverted to Bengaluru at 8.55am. A minute later, an Indigo flight from Bengaluru had to return. The Russian charter finally landed at 4.15pm, signalling the start of the tourist season.
Industry stakeholders have stated that there are indications of a fairly good season ahead. The tourists were accorded a warm welcome by Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) officials who had patiently waited at the airport. The guests were presented roses and souvenirs (T-shirts).
GTDC deputy general manager, Armando Duarte said, “We expect one more charter this month and four charters every month till the end of the season. We also feel that there will be an increase in number of passengers compared to last year,”
Adding to that he also spoke about BRICKS and said “It will be a boon for the infrastructure in the state and also boost tourism.”