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.