Gangtok: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday inaugurated Sikkim’s first-ever airport at Pakyong. Built at an estimated cost of over Rs 605 crore, the airport is spread over 201 acres and is located on top of a hill about two km above Pakyong village. The foundation stone of the airport was laid in 2009.

Located around 60 km from the Indo-China border, the airport is strategically relevant from a security point of view. The Indian Air Force (IAF) will also find this airport convenient for landing and taking off, Union Minister for Development of Northeastern Region (DoNER), Dr Jitendra Singh had said on Sunday.

Pakyong airport will be the 100th operational airport in India. It has 3,000 sq metre terminal building and has a capacity to handle 50 in-bound and as many out-bound passengers. The airport has a 1.75 km runway with a width of 30 metre. It has a 116-metre-long taxiway connecting it to an apron measuring 106 metre by 76 metre that can simultaneously accommodate two ATR-72 aircraft.

“The land for the airport was carved from the mountain side using massive geo technical ‘cut and fill’ engineering works,”Pakyong Airport Director R Manjunatha said, adding,”The first commercial flight from Pakyong would begin from October 4.” SpiceJet will operate 78-seater Bombardier Q400 flights to and fro Delhi, Kolkata and Guwahati daily.

(With inputs from PTI)