Pakyong airport Current Affairs - 2019
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For the first time, Antonov-32 AN-32 transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out a successful landing at Sikkim’s Pakyong, one of the highest airfields in the country.
The successful landing has assumed great importance due to its strategic location of 60 km from the India-China border and it is located 4,500 feet above sea level. The successful landing is a booster for the Indian efforts which is aggressively overhauling the infrastructure, particularly in the North-Eastern region, following the Doklam standoff in 2017.
Pakyong Airport is a Greenfield airport near Gangtok, the capital of the state of Sikkim. It is the first greenfield airport to be constructed in the Northeastern Region of India.
The airport is strategically important and the Indian Air Force is also building on the ability to land certain military aircraft at the Pakyong Airport. Prior to the inauguration of the Pakyong Airport by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 24th September 2018, Sikkim was the sole state in India without a functional airport and Sikkim was dependent on the airport at Bagdogra in the neighbouring state of West Bengal, and Paro Airport in Bhutan.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated Sikkim’s first-ever airport at Pakyong. Prior to this airport, Sikkim was only state in India remaining without functional airport. Pakyong airport is India’s 100th functional airport and one of the country’s five highest airports.
The airport is spread over 201 acres and was constructed by Airports Authority of India (AAI). It is located on top of hill about two km above Pakyong village at 4,500 feet above sea level. It was carved from mountain side using massive geo technical ‘cut and fill’ engineering works.
It is located around 60 km from Indo-China border and around 30km away from Gangtok, capital city of Sikkim. It has 1.75 km long runway. It has capacity to handle 50 in-bound and as many out-bound passengers flights.
Initially, this airport will cater only to domestic flights, but later provide international flight services connecting Sikkim with other countries (especially neighbouring) like Paro (Bhutan), Kathmandu (Nepal) and Dhaka (Bangladesh).
Operationalization of Pakyong airport will give huge big boost to connectivity and tourism to north-eastern state of Sikkim. It will cut down air travelling time to Sikkim by almost 5 hours because, earlier, nearest airport for connecting Sikkim was at Bagdogra in West Bengal. It will be major booster for Sikkim’s tourism sector, as it will help to improve air connectivity and save travel time for the tourists. Its location also makes it strategically relevant from the country’s security point of view. Indian Air Force (IAF) can use this airport for landing and taking off of its aircrafts during critical situations.