On a two-day visit to the north-east state, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, is all set to inaugurate Sikkim's First Airport, The Pakyong Airport today. The PM fulfils Sikkim's nine-year-long dream. The foundation for the airport was laid in 2009.
PM Modi arrived in Sikkim after announcing the Ayushman Bharat - Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) in Ranchi the previous day. According to the PM, the airport at Sikkim would be a connectivity boost in the North-east. The nearest airport used to be Bagdogra, located near Siliguri, West Bengal, roughly 150 km away from Gangtok.
Sikkim was the only state in India without an operational airport and the step would significantly enhance the travel industry in the land-locked state and the far east too. The new airport is just 30 km from Gangtok, the state capital and 60 km away from the China border. It is spread over more than 200 acres of land. It is located near the Pakyong village in Sikkim, roughly 4,500 feet above the sea level, making it one of the highest airports in India. The location is scenic and beautiful, assured to be a treat for the travellers.
The first commercial flight ops from Sikkim would start from October 4, 2018. The reinforcement wall of the project is 80-metre-high, one of the tallest in the world, as declared the Sikkim Chief Secretary, Mr. A K Chamling.
Reportedly, the airport would be a vital point for the Indian Air Force (IAF). It would enable the functioning of various types of aircraft due to the additional 75-metre stretch adjoining the main runway, which is under construction in the coming days. Sikkim is strategically placed as its border connects with three nations, Nepal in the west, Bhutan in the east and China on the north.