Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday inaugurated India’s 100th airport at the Pakyong, Sikkim. Designed by Space Ace Architects, the airport lies at a height of 4,500 feet (Approx 2 km) above sea level, is an engineering marvel, in the Himalayas. It’s also the first airport in Sikkim which is at a distance of 60 km from the India-China border. The newly constructed airport will connect landlocked Sikkim with the rest of the country, putting the state on the aviation map and opening new doors of tourism in the northeast part of the country.
The new Greenfield airport is constructed at an expense of Rs 605.59 crore by the Airports Authority of India (AAI). It will commence its commercial services in October this year. According to reports, SpiceJet will operate 78-seater Bombardier Q400 flights to and from Delhi, Kolkata and Guwahati every day.
Being among the top five airports in India which are situated at such a high altitude, Pakyong has a 1.75 km runway and a 116-metre long taxiway. Knowing that the airport is situated at such a high altitude, engineers have to put a lot of efforts for its soil reinforcement and slope stabilisation techniques. The airport is spread over 990 acres and is at a distance of 35 km south of Gangtok.
The foundation stone for Pakyong airport was laid down 9 years ago in February 2009 by the then Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel. Apart from Pakyong, the nearest airport from Sikkim is at a distance of 124 km in Bagdogra, West Bengal.