Narendra Modi likely to inaugurate Pakyong airport in Sikkim

May 08, 2018, 19:58 IST | PTI

The greenfield airport, close to the capital city of Gangtok, received the aerodrome license from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation last Friday for commercial operations

Representational picture

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to commission the strategically important Pakyong airport in Sikkim, sources in the Civil Aviation Ministry have said. The greenfield airport, close to the capital city of Gangtok, 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 Ministry is in talks with the PMO and hopefully the PM will inaugurate the airport given its strategic importance and significance," sources in the Ministry said, adding the dates are yet to the finalised. 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 an height of 4,500 feet in an inhospitable terrain.

Once commissioned, it will the 100th functional airport in the country. As on date, Sikkim is the only state in the country without a functional airport. 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 its 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.

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