In a significant development, the Pakyong airport in Sikkim obtained its licence on Friday to facilitate commercial flights.
“The Pakyong (Gangtok) Airport at Sikkim got license today for scheduled operations. It’s an engineering marvel at a height of more than 4,500 ft in a tough terrain. Will pave way for direct air connectivity to our lovely state of Sikkim, giving a boost to tourism & economic growth,” tweeted Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu.
Tourists, migrant workers and locals will soon fly on the low-cost airline SpiceJet, after it was granted permission to fly to Pakyong from Kolkata under the Centre’s regional connectivity scheme.
Many have hailed the construction of the Rs 350-crore greenfield airport in the Northeast as an engineering marvel considering the inhospitable terrain on which it was built.
The Pakyong airport in Sikkim is spread over 990 acres and is the first greenfield airport to be constructed in the north-east region of India, and the only airport in the state.
Over the years, several landslides near the runway, resulted in work being suspended twice, but it was finally constructed and a fixed-wing 19-seater Dornier 228 IAF aircraft landed on the runway on March 5.
The aircraft had a smooth landing, and all systems worked well. Officials stated that the aircraft had a normal landing despite low visibility.
The aircraft made several trial low passes over the runway, on February 28th, just to get used to the process. According to an official quoted in the Economic Times, this is the beginning of aviation connectivity for Sikkim.
The airport is an ambitious Rs 350 crore project, is awaiting the DGCA’s nod, for beginning commercial operations, which will help to put Sikkim on the country’s aviation map.
According to AK Srivastava, the Chief Secretary of Assam, a private airlines flight, carrying high-ranking officials of the Airport Authority of India and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, is expected to land in the Pakyong airport on March 10.
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Pakyong will be advantageous for those who want to take a flight to Sikkim, as presently the nearest airports to Sikkim are Bagdogra, which is 124 km away in West Bengal, and the Paro Airport in Bhutan. The new airport will be an excellent opportunity for those of you who haven’t yet experienced this beautiful mountainous abode.