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More defence aircraft will use Dabolim airport: Parrikar

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PANAJI (PTI): Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has said more defence aircraft would be using the Dabolim airport, which is a part of INS Hansa base, once a second aircraft carrier is commissioned.

"Now, Indian Navy is using three and half hours of time on the airport. But the number of MiG29 aircraft that are operating from this base (INS Hansa) will increase," Parrikar told the state legislative assembly during the discussion on demand for grants for airport portfolio on Monday.

"Right now we are catering to only one aircraft carrier. The number will increase once second aircraft carrier is commissioned. Two aircraft carriers will require 100 aircraft which will be operational from Goa," Parrikar, a former defence minister, said justifying the construction of greenfield airport at Mopa.

"Two aircraft carriers will be based in the western side," he added.

The chief minister said even after commissioning of Mopa airport, Dabolim facility will remain operational.

"Don't unnecessarily create doubt in the minds of the people. They are doing it when it comes to Dabolim airport," said the chief minister referring to opposition benches.

He said Dabolim airport, which has the capacity to cater to 2.70 million passengers, is currently handling 7.80 million passengers annually.

"Mopa will handle 4.40 milion passengers in the first phase. The growth of flying in Goa is 23.5 per cent and this growth is despite the fact that additional slots are not available," he said.

Pointing out at projected tourism growth, the chief minister said "at present more than 100 flights are coming to Goa".

"From 8 million tourists we want to increase the tourism footfall to 12 million in the years to come," he said assuring that Dabolim will always remain operational for civilian aircrafts.

"The tender for Mopa airport specifically mentions that Dabolim airport will continue. Goa requires both the airports without any questionmark," he said.

The international airport at Mopa is scheduled to be commissioned in the year 2020.

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