Kolkata, Oct 4 (PTI) Sikkim became the latest addition to the country’s aviation map Thursday as SpiceJet operated the first direct commercial flight to Pakyong airport from Kolkata, the airline said in a statement.Also Read - SpiceJet Announces 16 New Flights From August. Check Full Schedule, Timings and Other Details

The airline will operate direct flights on the Kolkata-Pakyong-Kolkata route daily under the Centre’s regional connectivity scheme UDAN, the statement said. Also Read - Prashant Kishor's I-PAC Team Confined to Hotel in Agartala, Police Says 'Routine Check-up'

“Today is a proud moment for SpiceJet and a historic one for Indian aviation as we have put Sikkim on India’s aviation map,” said Ajay Singh, the chairman and managing director, SpiceJet. Also Read - India Unlocks: From Delhi To Karnataka, States Relax Covid Curbs: Check What's Allowed Where, What’s Not

The first direct flight to Pakyong was flagged off from Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata. The airline has deployed a 78-seater Bombardier Q-400 aircraft on the route.

SpiceJet will launch a second flight connecting Guwahati with Pakyong from October 16, the statement said.

The first airport at Pakyong in Sikkim was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 24. It is located around 33 km from Gangtok, the state capital.

A traditional lamp lighting ceremony was organized Thursday to mark the inauguration of the operations.

The SpiceJet flight was greeted with a grand water cannon salute upon its arrival at Pakyong airport, the airline said.

SpiceJet is the first and only airline to connect Sikkim with the rest of the country and beyond, and will be connecting Pakyong with Guwahati from October 16, it said.

“Our new flights will provide a major boost to tourism and we are proud to contribute to the growth story of this vibrant state,” he said.

It is a great push for tourism and has definitely enhanced connectivity to Sikkim, said Atul Dixit, the director of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport (NSCBIA) in Kolkata.

“The direct flight will help in saving almost an entire day. Earlier, people had to fly to Bagdogra (West Bengal) and then drive to Gangtok,” Dixit said.

Pakyong airport, the country’s 100th operational airport, is an engineering marvel situated at a height of more than 4,500 feet.

On March 10, the airline had successfully operated a test flight to Pakyong making it the first civil fixed aircraft to land at the airport.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.