Sikkim Gets Its First Airport at Pakyong
The Pakyong Airport will initially connect Sikkim to domestic destinations like Delhi, Kolkata and Guwahati by air.
India’s Northeastern state of Sikkim entered the aviation map of the country on Sept. 24, with the inauguration of its first airport. The Pakyong Airport, inaugurate by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is 33 km from the state capital, Gangtok, and around 60 km from the Indo-China border.
Until now, Sikkim was the only state in the country that did not have an operational airport, NDTV reported. People travelling from or to Sikkim had to go to the Bagdogra airport in West Bengal, which is 124 km from the state. Now Pakyong Airport has joined the land-locked state with the rest of the country via air travel, which will not only ease the travel-related hardships but also promote tourism in the state.
The foundation stone of the Pakyong Airport was laid in 2009 by the then Civil Aviation Minister, Praful Patel.
The greenfield airport terminal can cater to 50 in-bound and as many out-bound passengers. The first commercial flight from the airport will take off on Oct.4, which will be operated by SpiceJet, PTI reported.
While inaugurating the airport, Modi congratulated the people of the state and the rest of the country, saying “Today, it is not only a historic day for Sikkim but also for the country. With the inauguration of the Pakyong airport in the state, the country got its 100th operational airport.”
In the Pakyong Airport, Sikkim gets its first airport and India its one hundredth. Today is a momentous day for the aviation sector.
Delighted to have inaugurated the airport in Sikkim. Come, visit Sikkim and experience the beauty and hospitality of the state! pic.twitter.com/fZ6ZxIitRj
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 24, 2018
The airport is spread over 201 acres, Sikkim Chief Secretary AK Srivastava said, according to PTI. It is located on top of a hill at a height of 4,500 feet above sea level. Built by the Airports Authority of India at a cost of Rs 605 crore, the airport has a 1.75 km runway. It is an “engineering marvel” on account of the soil reinforcement and slope stabilization techniques used in its construction keeping the altitude in mind, the report cited Srivastava as saying.
The airport is one of the five highest airports in India, Punj Lloyd, which was awarded the contract for its development, says on its website.
Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling also posted the news on his Twitter handle.
Ho’nble PM @narendramodi ji dedicates the Pakyong Airport to the Nation,bringing Sikkim in the civil avaiation map. A historic day for us in the State. Also thankful for the gesture of Hon’ble PM for consenting to inaugurate the Airport inspite of his busy schedule. pic.twitter.com/MrGXYIvqrW
— Pawan Chamling (@pawanchamling5) September 24, 2018
SpiceJet will operate its 78-seater Bombardier Q400 flights to and from Delhi, Kolkata and Guwahati every day under the Civil Aviation Ministry’s Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) scheme, which aims to enhance regional connectivity, Pakyong Airport Director R Manjunatha was cited as saying by the news agency.
He added that initially only domestic flights will be operated from the airport but later it will also provide international flight services, which will connect Sikkim with neighboring countries like Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh.
The flight schedule given on SpiceJet’s website says that its flight will leave from Kolkata at 9:30 am daily to reach Pakyong at 10:55 am. From Pakyong, the flight for Kolkata will leave at 11:15 am to reach Kolkata at 12:45 am. The schedule for Pakyong to Kolkata will be changed from Oct.16, when the flight will leave Pakyong airport at 2:50 pm.
SpiceJet shared the news on its Twitter handle, saying it takes pride in being the first carrier to operate at Pakyong Airport.
The country gets its 100th airport and Sikkim, its 1st. Pakyong, Gangtok is the proud city to earn this laurel. With this inauguration, #SpiceJet will continue to connect the unconnected. We take immense pride in being the first carrier to operate at #PakyongAirport pic.twitter.com/XCvruy7NaY
— SpiceJet (@flyspicejet) September 24, 2018