International Goa News
Direct daily AI flights from Goa to Dubai, Muscat to ease travel
Goans living in United Arab Emirates (Dubai and Abu Dhabi) and neigbouring Muscat and wanting to reach home without having to change planes would now have choice of flying out of the state with direct flights to be operated by Air India (from Sunday — November 16) and Jet Airways.
National air carrier Air India has already announced commencement of its second direct service from Goa to Dubai with a stopover in Mumbai from November 16. The direct flight AI-983, to be operated daily, would depart at 5.45 p.m. for Mumbai and thereafter fly to Dubai at 8.30 p.m. The flight would reach Dubai at 9.45 p.m local time.
Operation of the direct services to Dubai from the state would help AI passengers the convenience of doing their customs/immigration at Goa on their departure and arrival with seamless transfer connections in Mumbai, to other international destinations like Hong Kong, Muscat, Singapore, Bangkok, New York, Melbourne, Sydney, Beijing, Amsterdam and London.
Station manager of Air India in Goa Manjiri Shirodkar said that AI has been operating direct flight from Goa to Dubai four days a week and that there was a demand for an outbound second flight. She said, “With operation of the second flight, Goans would now have a choice to fly directly from the state to Dubai without having to change the plane.”
AI has in the meanwhile decided to discontinue operation of flight AI 330 from Goa to Bangkok with stopover at Mumbai from November 16. The flight AI-662 scheduled to leave Goa at 10.30 p.m. would now be operated as domestic flight.
AI has also announced operation of direct flight between Goa and Muscat via Mumbai with effect from Sunday – November 16. The flight AI-985 would leave Goa at 5.55 p.m. and arrive in Mumbai at 7 p.m. The flight would leave Mumbai at 10.05 p.m. and arrive at Muscat at 11.10 p.m local time.
Introduction of the flight would enable passengers to complete their immigration and customs formalities and check baggage through to Muscat at Dabolim Airport, Goa itself. Flight number AI-983 would land at T-2 (International Airport in Mumbai) and passengers would be accommodated in the transit lounge till departure of their flight to Muscat.
Goan community in Oman had been demanding direct flights for a long time and the issue was taken up by Commissioner for NRI Affairs Dr Wilfred Menezes Mesquita with Union Minister of Civil Aviation P Ashok Gajapathi Raju for commencement of direct flight from Goa to Muscat and back.
Air India has promised to re-schedule the flight for journey to Goa in such a way to give enough time to connect the flight to Goa. NRI Commissionner had also requested the Union Civil Aviation Ministry for introduction of additional flights in view of the Exposition of the sacred relics of St Francis Xavier (from November 22, 2014 to January 04, 2015) from Kuwait and other Gulf countries.
Meanwhile, Jet Airways has announced introduction of daily direct flight from Abu Dhabi to Goa and back from November 14. Jet Airways Flight 9W0589 would leave Abu Dhabi at 10.20 p.m. and arrive in Goa at 4.15 a.m. the following day. The flight to Abu Dhabi 9W0590 would depart from Goa at 5.15 a.m. and arrive in Abu Dhabi at 7.35 a.m. local time. [NT]
Visa relief for Canadian citizens of Goan origin
After security clearance from the the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA), the Indian embassy in Canada issued visas to 24 Canadian citizens of Goan origin who were facing hurdles in visiting Goa for the Exposition of the Sacred Relics of St Francis Xavier.
TOI had first reported how these citizens were facing difficulty in getting a visa to visit their ancestral land.
Following a request from the Canadian citizens, the NRI commission had approached the government of India, MHA (foreigners' division), for security clearance to as many as 24 Canadian citizens of Goan origin in view of their past Pakistan links.
They are Goans, many of whom had settled in Pakistan before Independence and later migrated to Canada and acquired Canadian citizenship.
Speaking to TOI NRI commissioner Wilfred Mesquita said that they have received confirmation from MHA that visa has been issued to the 24 Goan origin pilgrims.
Pravin Horo Singh director (Foreigners II), MHA in a communication to director for NRI affairs U D Kamat informed that security clearance has been given to Canadian citizens.
Most of the pilgrims are senior citizens with 10 of them being born before partition and 14 after. Of the latter, two were born in Lahore and the others in Karachi.Mesquita has said that all the 24 applicants have renounced Pakistani citizenship but because of their past links with Pakistan, the Indian consulate in Toronto, where they applied for visas, has to seek security clearance from MHA.
The NRI commission in a letter to MHA joint secretary (foreigners) V Vumlunmang said the state government would be obliged if the visas are processed in a time bound manner considering that the applicants want to visit Goa during the Exposition.
Canadian citizens could have got overseas citizens of India (OCI) status if they had shifted from Pakistan immediately after Independence and not taken Pakistani citizenship, Mesquita had said.
The Sacred Relics of St Francis Xavier are preserved in the Basilica of Bom Jesus at the Old Goa World Heritage complex, and brought down for veneration every 10 years for a 45-day period. [TOI]
Goans desiring to register birth in Portugal will be obliged: Consul General
Newly appointed Consul General of Portugal in Goa Dr Rui Carvalho Baceira on Wednesday said that if any Goan born before December 19, 1961, that is before the Liberation of Goa from the Portuguese regime, applies to the Portuguese Consulate for registering his birth in Portugal, and if his or her application fulfils all necessary criteria, then the Consulate is bound to respond positively to the application.
“The exercise, however, is not easy and the applicant needs to submit all the necessary documents for the purpose,” he added, stressing that not every Goan born before December 19, 1961, becomes a Portuguese citizen by default.
“The registration of birth in Portugal, as per the existing Portuguese laws will entitle a person to possess Cartão de Cidadão, a Portuguese Citizen Card, which has been primarily designed to replace the older Bilhete de Identidade or Identity Card,” Dr Baceira added, pointing out that the Cartão de Cidadão would make the applicant a citizen of Portugal.
“In fact, there are different Portuguese laws for different former colonies of Portugal, pertaining to the Portuguese citizenship of the residents of these former colonies,” he maintained, stating that Portuguese passport is just a travel document that facilitates travel to Portugal, and Cartão de Cidadão is the most important document as far as Portuguese citizenship is concerned.
Interacting with the media informally, the Consul General of Portugal in Goa said that the Portuguese laws are clear and if there is any confusion about the dual citizenship issue locally, then the government of India should address the same. Dr Baceira also stated that since he has recently taken over the responsibility as the Consul General of Portugal in Goa, he has no idea about any possible communication that has taken place between government of India as well as government of Goa and the Consulate General of Portugal in Goa over the matter.
Replying to a question as to whether there exists a sunset clause for expiry of the provision in the Portuguese law pertaining to Portuguese citizenship of Goans born before December 19, 1961, Dr Baceira said that no such deadline exists. “May be, say, after 100 years, the population born before December 19, 1961, would cease to exist and the particular provision will turn redundant,” he observed.
When asked as to whether large number of people has sought Portuguese citizenship from Portuguese Consulate in Goa, Dr Baceira said that although not too many people from Goa have sought Portuguese citizenship from the Consulate here, such number appears to be large since the exercise is going on for past several years.
On a parting note, the Consul General of Portugal in Goa said that people in Goa, who have any work related to citizenship or travel documents linked to Portugal, should approach the Portuguese Consulate here, and refrain from seeking help of the agents.
It may be recalled that the Union Ministry of Home Affairs vide a notification dated March 28, 1962, had notified the Goa, Daman and Diu (Citizenship) Order, 1962, under Section 7 of the Citizenship Act 1955, which ensured that every person who or either of whose parents or any of whose grandparents was born before December 20, 1961, in the then Union Territories of Goa, Daman and Diu, shall be deemed to have become citizens of India on that day, except where any such person had made a declaration in writing within one month that he had chosen to retain the citizenship which he had immediately before December 20, 1961.
The issue of dual citizenship in Goa, in fact, had come alive after two ruling side MLAs – Glen Ticklo of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Caetano Silva of the Goa Vikas Party – had to approach courts faced with this problem. Many have since taken a legal position that their births (of Goans born before 1961) have been registered in Portugal by third person or some agent, without their knowledge.
Earlier, the new Consul General of Portugal in Goa said that Goa is a melting pot of many cultures and influences. “My work is to support Portuguese speaking people in Goa as well as try to keep the presence of Portuguese culture in Goa alive,” he added, pointing out, “There are other duties too including the activities of the Consulate, Portuguese language, Portuguese identity, and so on.” Presently, there are around 10,000 Portuguese speaking people in the state. [NT]
Jet Airways to fly from Abu Dhabi to Goa
Goa tourism can now hope to increase free independent travellers (FIT) segment of tourists to Goa as another direct flight from the Middle East starts from next month. From November 14 onwards, Jet Airways is starting a direct Abu Dhabi-Goa flight.
Currently, direct flights to Goa from four destinations from the Middle East such as Dubai, Kuwait, Sharjah and Doha are available.
Airports Authority of India (AAI) director at Dabolim airport, K Srinivasa Rao, confirmed the starting of a direct flight from Abu Dhabi.
Francisco de Braganca, president of travel and tourism association of Goa (TTAG), said this will certainly boost tourism in Goa, and it is "good news" in view of predictions of a likely fall in the charter arrivals to Goa for this season.
Goa tourism can really hope to expand its FIT segment in a big way if more direct flights land in Goa.
While there are no figures available about FITs visiting Goa, it is not big as charter business still holds sway.
Last season, 4.45 lakh international tourists visited Goa with a major chunk arriving on charter flights, mostly from Russia.
Braganca said addition of a direct flight from Abu Dhabi will encourage FIT movement, as it clears hassles that a traveller has to undergo if he has to change a flight to reach his final destination.
"When people go on a holiday, they don't like to spend long hours at airports and change flights to reach their holiday destination. They just want to reach their final destination without delays," pointed out Braganca.
Also, another player jumping into the fray will have a positive impact on air fare.
There now being competition, travel will cost less. Currently, just two-three companies offer direct flight services to Goa. [TOI]
Goa-Moscow direct flights to begin on Sunday
In an attempt to cash in on the growing Russian tourist traffic to the state and offer the Russian tourists direct connectivity, the national carrier Air India would start operations of direct flights between Goa and Moscow via Delhi beginning Sunday (October 26).
The flights between Goa and Mumbai would be operated between Goa and Moscow four times a week (on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday). The Moscow-bound flight (AI 155) would depart from Goa at 1:45 p.m. and reach Delhi at 4.15 p.m. It would leave Delhi at 7.40 p.m. and arrive in Moscow at 11:20 p.m. on the same day.
The flights from Moscow to Goa will be operated (four times a week) on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday with departure from Moscow at 1 a.m. hours and arrival in Goa at 1:05 p.m. on the same day with a transit halt in New Delhi.
The AI flight 156 will leave Moscow for Delhi at 1 a.m. and arrive there at 9 a.m. It will leave Delhi at 10.30 a.m. and arrive in Goa at 1.05 p.m. The operation of flights will also help domestic air passengers to travel to the national capital from Goa by a non-stop flight.
This AI service will meet the longstanding demand for seamless air travel between Goa and Moscow in view of the increased traffic between India and Russia especially Goa that has been experienced for a long time now and for non-stop flights between Goa and Delhi – a demand from the domestic travellers including government officials.
The commencement of the service would also help AI passengers the convenience of doing their customs/immigration at Goa on their departure and arrival with seamless transfer connections in Delhi to/from other international destinations like Bahrain, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Osaka, Seoul, Muscat, Singapore and Dubai apart from Moscow. [NT]