GANGTOK: 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.
“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.
SpiceJet is set to start operating daily flights to and from Kolkata and Guwahati from October 8, 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, said, a Press Information Bureau release stated.