In a major setback to tourism activity in the State, charter flights which were expected to bring international tourists from Kazakhstan have been cancelled.
Airport Director Gagan Malik told reporters on Friday afternoon said empty flights (ferry flights) are now arriving in Goa to take back charter tourists who have been in the State.
"We were expected to have Air Astana and Scat Airline flights bringing in international passengers from Kazakhstan, but they have been cancelled amid the political situation in their country,” said Malik.
“We are not getting passengers from Kazakhstan as of now but they are only bringing in empty flights to take back the charter tourists in Goa. Most of the passengers will be lifted out in a few days.”
“As of now, we have allotted 9 slots to Russian flights, of which two have arrived and these operations may also depend on the Covid scenario. We have to wait and monitor the situation," said Malik.
The airport director said there has been a huge decline in passengers from international flights.
“We have around 140 passengers in the Air Arabia flight which is operating under the Air Bubble. We have had as less as 66 passengers in flights arriving from Dubai. I don't think international commercial flight operations will resume soon because Europe also is badly affected with the new Covid outbreak," added Malik.
Meanwhile, Malik also said there has also been a steep fall in domestic passenger footfalls and flight operations in the last few days.
"The effect of the present outbreak and the Omicron threat is visible and airline operations and passenger footfalls have dropped sharply in the last fortnight,” said Malik.
“We handled 102 departures with around 27,000 passengers in a day, which was a record by itself recently, but average departures have declined from 94 to to about 60 departures a day presently.”
“The passenger footfalls have also dropped from around 27,000-30,000 to about 8,000-10,000. If the trend continues, we will have a further decline in passenger footfalls and flight operations," said Malik
He admitted that people would want to avoid air travel because of a sharp rise in Covid cases.
It may be recalled that Goa welcomed its first charter flight of the season when a flight from Almaty, Kazakhstan, landed with roughly 170 passengers. Air Asthana flight landed at Dabolim international airport at 7 am on December 15, according to Caper Travels, which arranged the charter trip from Kazakhstan.