Gangtok, 18 Sep : Sikkim is soon going to feature in India’s aviation map with the commissioning of the state’s first and the country’s 100th functional airport coming Sunday. Spread over 206 acres and sitting snugly at a height of 4,500 ft between the Himalayas, Pakyong airport is an example of stellar engineering at an estimated cost of Rs 605.59 crore. State-of-the-art geotechnical engineering including soil reinforcement and slope stabilisation techniques has gone into the making of the Greenfield project that is becoming functional almost a decade after it was approved by the Union Cabinet.
Since Pakyong is located less than 30 kilometers from the state capital Gangtok, tourists as well as local travellers will now be spared of the 4-5 hour harrowing journey uphill from the other nearest airport Bagdogra.
Press Information Bureau (PIB), Gangtok, facilitated a press tour to the airport site today to let the media get first hand information on the ongoing preparations for the Prime Minister’s visit for the inauguration of the Airport on September 23. Present at the site were Sikkim’s Minister of Civil Aviation and Tourism department, Ugen T Gyatso Bhutia, Minister for Building and Housing Department and Transport D T Lepcha, Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Sikkim S C Gupta, Pakyong airport MLA Hemendra Adhikari, and officials of the Airport Authority of India.
“Greenfield airports have their own beauty and merits. You will experience them when flights start operating. Moreover, the airport will have multi-dimensional benefits for Sikkim which will gradually come to the fore with time,” Ugen T Gyatso Bhutia, Minister of Civil Aviation and Tourism department, Government of Sikkim, told the media persons.
With an eye on the Puja holiday travel, SpiceJet is set to start operating daily flights to and from Kolkata and Guwahati from the 8th of October, contingent to the official inaugural. SpiceJet will operate Bombardier Q400 aircraft with 78 seats on this sector. As the airline has been granted permission to operate from Pakyong under the Union Civil Aviation Ministry’s UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) scheme for enhancing regional connectivity, the cap on fares for the routes is Rs 2,600.
“The Pakyong airport has been included in the central government’s ambitious UDAN scheme. This is bound to enhance regional connectivity aiding the development of Sikkim’s tourism sector. Also, gradually, the airport will connect Sikkim with other countries in the region like Bhutan, Kathmandu and Bangkok where people from the state usually go on vacations,” Ugen T Gyatso Bhutia, Minister of Civil Aviation and Tourism department, Government of Sikkim, told the media persons.
Indian Air Force’s Dornier 228 was the first aircraft to be tested from Pakyong on March 5 this year. Following this, SpiceJet conducted the successful test flight of the 78-seater Bombardier Q400 from Kolkata to Pakyong on March 10 leading to security clearances for commercial operations. (PIB)