Sikkim’s first-ever airport was inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 24, 2018 at Pakyong. The development is a historic occasion for the entire northeast region of India.
Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister said that with the Pakyong Airport, the country has hit a century of airports. The development not only eases connectivity to the Himalayan state but also brings it on the air-map of the world.
The airport was constructed by the Airports Authority of India. Until now, Sikkim was the only state in India remaining without a functional airport.
Top Ten Facts
1. Location: The airport is spread over 201 acres and is located on top of a hill about two km above Pakyong village at 4,500 feet above sea level.
2. Strategic Location: It is around 60 km from the Indo-China border and around 30km away from Sikkim’s capital city, Gangtok.
3. Strategic Relevance: The airport’s location makes it strategically relevant from the country's security point of view. The Indian Air Force (IAF) will find this airport convenient for the landing and taking off of its aircrafts.
4. Runway width: The runway of the Pakyong airport is 1.75 km.
5. Expenditure: The Pakyong airport was built at an estimated cost of over Rs 605 crore.
6. Travel Time Cut: With the new airport, the travelling time to Sikkim will be get cut down by almost 5 hours because, earlier, the nearest airport to which the tourists could fly down was Bagdogra in West Bengal.
7. Passenger capacity: It has a capacity to handle 50 in-bound and as many out-bound passengers.
8. Connectivity: It will give a huge big boost to connectivity and tourism in the north-east as it is one of the few airports in the region.
9. Engineering marvel: The airport was carved from the mountain side using massive geo technical 'cut and fill' engineering works.
10. Tourism: Sikkim has been one of the favorite destinations for tourists, almost all throughout the year. Hence, from the tourist point of view, the airport will be a major booster, as it will help improve connectivity and save travel time for the tourists.
The airport is not only India’s 100th functional airport but also one of the country’s five highest airports.
The first commercial flight from Pakyong is scheduled to begin from October 4, when Spicejet will start its daily Kolkata-Sikkim flights.
Following this, SpiceJet will operate 78-seater Bombardier Q400 flights to and fro from Delhi, Kolkata and Guwahati every day under the Civil Aviation Ministry’s Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) scheme.
Initially, the airport will cater only to domestic flights, but later it will also provide international flight services connecting Sikkim with other countries like Paro in Bhutan, Kathmandu in Nepal and Dhaka in Bangladesh.
On March 5, IAF's Dornier-228 aircraft was tested from Pakyong. SpiceJet followed it by conducting test runs of its 78-seater Bombardier Q400 from Kolkata to Pakyong in the same month.
The test runs led to security clearances for commercial operations. The Sikkim Police has been entrusted with the security of the Pakyong airport.
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