The land of snow-capped mountains and mesmerising monasteries, Sikkim is a popular tourist destination in India and is frequented by millions of domestic as well as international tourists every year. It is one of the few states in India where one can savour the best of natural beauties in a pristine and stainless environment. Hence, it has become a popular getaway for most of the tourists over a period of time. But do you know despite being a major travel destination, Sikkim was never connected to other cities by air? However, it got its first-ever airport at Pakyong after PM Narendra Modi inaugurated it on 24th September. Let's learn more about Pakyong Airport and how it is going to affect tourism in the state.
The Region And Location Of The Airport
The airport is built in a small town named Pakyong which is located at a distance of about 30 km from Gangtok and is easily accessible by road. With an elevation of about 4500 ft, it is one of the highest airports ever built in the country.
It is spread over an area of about 900 acres and is surrounded by lush green hills and echoing valleys of Sikkim. Therefore, it wouldn't be wrong to say that it is one of the most beautiful airports in India. It is also the first-ever greenfield airport in the north-eastern parts of the country.
How The Idea Of Sikkim's First Airport Pitched In
The idea of constructing an airport in the state of Sikkim was pitched in the year 2008 when the cabinet committee of the state approved its development. The contract of building the airport was given to the Punj Lloyd Group and soon after a few months in the year 2009, the civil aviation minister, Praful Patel, laid the foundation stone. The project was subjected to be finished by 2012; however, on account of protests by locals, its production was delayed several times.
Operation Of Commercial Flights
The first aircraft to ever land at Pakyong airport was IAF Dornier 228 in March 2018. However, it took a period of two months for the airport to get its commercial license from DGCA (Directorate General Of Civil Aviation).
From 8th October, Spicejet will be operating several commercial flights, thereby, connecting Sikkim to numerous other major cities of India. On the other hand, Druk Air, a Bhutan airline company, is also planning to operate its flights so that Sikkim could easily get connected to Bhutan.
Will Also Land Military Flights
As Pakyong Airport is lying in the vicinity of the Indo-China Border, it has been instructed to land military aircraft as well. The airport is designed and constructed in such a way that it can easily land fast-moving fighter planes and hold a good number of jet aircrafts in case of any emergency.
How It Will Affect Tourism
Undoubtedly, the inauguration of Pakyong Airport will affect tourism in the state. Did you know that before the completion of Pakyong Airport, Sikkim was the only state in the country without any functional airport?
Well, now when it is going to get connected to other cities of India by air, tourists will find it easy to reach Sikkim. Earlier, Bagdogra Airport was the nearest airport to Sikkim at a distance of about 120 km. Now, tourists can reach Sikkim within minimum time and will be able to explore most of it.