- PM Modi inaugurates Sikkim's Pakyong airport today
- The airport is expected to improve connectivity and boost tourism
- Sikkim was the only state in India without an airport
Nine years after the foundation stone of Sikkim's first - and only - airport was laid, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Pakyong airport today. The greenfield airport is expected to improve the connectivity to the land-locked state nestled in the Himalayas and give a boost to its tourism.
Commercial flight operations from the Pakyong airport, around 33 km from Gangtok, would begin from October 4, Pakyong Airport Director R Manjunatha said. Sikkim was the only state in India remaining without a functional airport.
Addressing people at a school in Pakyong after the inauguration, PM Modi said Pakyong airport is the "symbol of our engineering skills". "I want to congratulate all the engineers and workers who planned and built this airport. A lot of work is happening in the northeast for the first time since Independence. In some places airports, railways and even electricity reached for the first time," PM Modi said.
PM Modi landed in state capital Gangtok on Sunday in a helicopter. He was received by Governor Ganga Prasad and Chief Minister Pawan Chamling. On his way, he clicked scenic pictures of the state from the MI-8 chopper and shared them on Twitter.
SpiceJet will operate 78-seater Bombardier Q400 flights to and from Delhi, Kolkata and Guwahati everyday.
The airport is spread over 201 acres and is located on top of a hill about two km above Pakyong village at 4,500 feet above sea level, Sikkim Chief Secretary AK Srivastava said.
The airport was built at an estimated cost of Rs 605 crore and is an "engineering marvel" for its soil reinforcement and slope stabilisation techniques keeping in view the altitude it was built at, the officer said.
Located about 60 km from the India-China border, Pakyong airport will be the 100th operational airport in India.
The runway of the Pakyong airport is 1.75 km
The airport was constructed by the Airports Authority of India and at present, the nearest airport from Sikkim is located 124 km away in Bagdogra in West Bengal.
(With inputs from PTI)
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