Sikkim’s Pakyong airport – inaugurated by PM Narendra Modi today – is nothing short of an engineering marvel! PM Modi arrived in Sikkim on Sunday evening in an MI-8 chopper from West Bengal’s Bagdogra and inaugurated the Pakyong airport today morning. Spread across 201 acres, the Pakyong airport has been built approximately 2 kilometres above the Pakyong village in Sikkim. With its inauguration today, the state of Sikkim has finally been added on India’s aviation map. Pakyong’s first commercial flight operations will begin from October 4. It’s no mean feat to provide air connectivity to the hilly state of Sikkim, given the fact that rough terrain has also served to be a hindrance for rail connectivity in the area. Pakyong airport is located at a distance of approximately 30 kilometres from Sikkim’s capital Gangtok. The greenfield Pakyong airport is bound to be a stunning sight for any tourist – be it from the aerial view or on ground! It has been built at a cost of Rs 350 crore and will be operated by the Airports Authority of India (AAI). We take a look at 8 facts and images of the Pakyong airport that will leave you awestruck!
1. Imagine this – after all these years, Sikkim does not have a railway line. This means that even before a railway line has built, Sikkim has been put on India’s aviation map! Sikkim is nestled in Himalayas and the rough terrain has made it difficult for Indian Railways to build a line, even though a 44-km long Sivok-Rangpo line has been sanctioned.
2. Till now, people travelling to Sikkim had to take a flight till Bagdogra in West Bengal, which is at a distance of 150 kilometres and then go to Gangtok via hilly roads. With Pakyong airport, Sikkim has got unprecedented air connectivity.
3. Budget carrier Spicejet will commence operations of Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 aircraft at the Pakyong airport from the first week of October. The carrier will operate daily direct flights from Pakyong to Kolkata. While a flight will depart from Kolkata at 9:30 AM daily, in the return direction the plane will leave at 11:15 AM.
4. Pakyong airport is an engineering marvel and has been built at a height of 4,500 feet!
5. Pakyong airport in Sikkim is also strategically located near the Indo-China border. At a distance of 60 kilometres from the border, the Pakyong airport will also be a boost to the defence forces.
IAF (Indian Air Force) officials have said in the past that various types of aircraft will be able to land at the Pakyong airport. A Dornier 228 aircraft has already been test landed on the airstrip.
6. Pakyong airport is the 100th airport in India and the first in the state of Sikkim. Sikkim was also the only state in the country till now to not have an airport. Pakyong airport will provide connectivity and tourism boost to the North-East like never before!
7. Pakyong airport is also a greenfield airport that has made use of techniques such as soil reinforcement and slope stabilisation. This is because of the altitude that it has been built at.
8. Starting commercial flights on Pakyong airport is part of Modi government’s UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) scheme that aims to provide low-cost connectivity to remote areas.