North eastern state Sikkim gets its first airport

The greenfield facility to be India's 100th functional airport


September 20, 2018

/ By Surbhi Kapila / New Delhi


Sikkim’s new airport will improve connectivity of this north eastern state with the rest of the country while also boosting tourism.

Up till recently one of the options to reach Sikkim would be to take a flight till West Bengal and from there drive  at least four hours to reach the destination; but with the commissioning of a greenfield airport, the north eastern state will now be better connected with the rest of the country.

At an altitude of 4,500 ft between the Himalayas, the new facility Pakyong Airport is located in Pakyong, a small town in the state. It is less than 30 km from Gangtok, Sikkim’s capital.

To be thrown open on September 23, 2018, the airport will be inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The small hill state’s first airport, Pakyong Airport will also be the country’s 100th functional airport. Spread over 206 acres the airport has been built at a cost of more than INR six billion and is being said to have fine engineering administered in its making.

State-of-the-art geo-technical engineering, including soil reinforcement and slope stabilisation techniques, has gone into the making of the greenfield project, which is becoming functional almost a decade after it was approved by the Union Cabinet, an official said.

The airport is part of the Union Civil Aviation Ministry’s scheme- Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN), which aims to enhance regional connectivity in the country.

The Indian Air Force’s Dornier aircraft was the first plane to be tested from Pakyong on March 5 this year.

After this no-frills airline SpiceJet conducted a successful test flight of a Bombardier Q400 from Kolkata (city in West Bengal) to Pakyong on March 10 leading to security clearances for commercial operations. The airline will commence operations on the same route.

As part of the UDAN scheme, the airport is bound to improve the tourism industry of the state, the official said.

Tour operators and homestay owners from the state have also expressed their confidence in the fact that the facility will improve tourism.

Eventually, a connectivity from the airport to neighbouring countries such as Bhutan, Nepal, and Thailand is also being looked at as people from Sikkim usually go on vacations here.

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