India To Get It’s Strategic Airport Near Tibetan Plateau

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LOOKEAST REPORT |

Pakyong Airport is finally up and ready to start operations, and the inauguration is expected to happen after Karnataka assembly election. The original plan was to have the airport ready in 2012. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been requested to come for the inauguration.

Pakyong Airport, named after the village where it is located, is spread across 990 acres of land and lies around 35 km from Gangtok, Sikkim’s populous capital city. This is Sikkim’s first ever public airbase, and a greenfield airport. It is also one of India’s five highest–altitude airports, located at a height of 1,399 m or 4,590 feet.

SpiceJet conducted a dry run at Pakyong Airport and successfully landing there on March 5 this year with one it’s Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 aircraft.

Reports suggest that prime minister Modi is likely to inaugurate the Pakyong airport, which is also strategically located some 60 kilometres away from the India–China border. Pakyong airport will become the 100th operational airport of India and is part of the Modi government’s regional connectivity scheme UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik).

As part of the UDAN scheme, as many as 25 airports have been added to India’s aviation network, MoS Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha has recently said. The airports that are set to start operations in the coming months are; Pantnagar, Jamshedpur, Durgapur, Kullu and Cooch Behar. Besides these, airports of 13 cities are getting an upgrade. These are; Raigarh, Jeypore, Rourkela, Kanpur, Ambikapur, Jagdalpur, Neyveli, Solapur, Jharsuguda, Bilaspur, Mithapur, Utkela and Burnpur.

Sikkim is the only state in the country, that did not have an airport – but with the commissioning of the Pakyong airport that is about to change. India’s Civil Aviation Ministry recently granted license to the Pakyong airport to start commercial operations.

 

Pakyong airport, which is also strategically located some 60 kilometers away from the India–China border. Pakyong airport will become the 100th operational airport of India and is part of the Modi government’s regional connectivity scheme UDAN

 

The airport was approved 11 years ago, but litigation over land acquisition delayed the whole project. But at long last it is ready, and the Airports Authority of India has already given it’s go–ahead for operations to start. Once inaugurated, Pakyong Airport will make Sikkim much more accessible to thousands of travellers eagerly waiting to explore the Himalayan state.

The greenfield airport, received the aerodrome license from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation last Friday for commercial operations. The formal announcement was made by Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu through his Twitter feed.

The airport was approved by the centre in 2008 and was constructed at an estimated cost of Rs. 350 crore. The project is being billed as an engineering marvel – it has been built at a height of 4,590 feet in an inhospitable terrain.

Low–cost airline SpiceJet has been granted permission to fly to Pakyong from Kolkata under the Civil Aviation Ministry’s regional connectivity scheme.

SpiceJet has already conducted a dry run at the airport with one it’s Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 aircraft, successfully landing there on March 5. Also in March, A Dornier 228 of the Indian Air Force landed at the airport.

The tourism sector, in particular, is expected to benefit immensely with the opening of the airport other than the economic boon it will bring to the Himalayan state.

The nearest Bagdogra airport in West Bengal is about 150 km from Gangtok and air passengers have to take the road after alighting there. ■

With PTI inputs

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