As India opens its doors to international visitors, Goa will begin receiving charter flights from Russia and the United Kingdom in November. TUI Airways flights from the UK are scheduled to begin in the first week of November, according to Goa travel agencies, while the airline says operations will begin on December 13.
“As of December 13, we’ll be operating to Goa.” In an email answer, a TUI spokeswoman noted, “This is currently under consideration pending government guidance.”
Russian flights are anticipated to begin in mid-November. Russia is Goa’s most important tourism source market, with four to five daily flights from Russia arriving throughout the winter months in pre-Covid times.
“So far only Rossiya Airlines has received permission from the Russian government for two weekly flights to Goa. Other companies have made applications, too. The DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) is yet to approve the Rossiya Airlines flights and the schedule will be finalised once approvals are in place,” said Abida Kumar, vice-president (operations) of Minar Travels, which handles groups from Russia.
Local representatives of charter firms are in contact with the airport, according to Goa airport director Gagan Malik, but no applications for slots have been submitted yet.
From October 15, according to the Union Home Ministry, leisure travellers will be able to fly on charter aircraft. From November 15, tourists will be permitted to fly on regular flights. Only 30-day tourist visas with a single entry will be given.
While all visitors to India must have a negative RT-PCR test result 72 hours before departure, visitors from the United Kingdom must be tested upon arrival and must stay at home for seven days, according to Ministry of Health and Family Welfare rules issued on February 17.
The state is a popular winter resort for Europeans, with hundreds arriving on charter flights from the United Kingdom and Russia. Every year, the charter season begins in October and lasts until May.
Goa welcomed 813 charter flights and 218,776 international tourists between October 2018 and May 2019. According to figures from the Goa tourism agency, over 90,000 tourists arrived in 292 flights from Russia, followed by the United Kingdom and Ukraine.
In the 2013-14 fiscal year, Goa got the most charter flights. The state welcomed 1,128 flights bringing 261,452 international tourists in that year. In 2015-16, the number of international charter flights fell to 798, but increased to 988 the following year.