The Northeastern state of Sikkim now has an airport. Pakyong Airport was inaugurated by the Hon’ble Prime Minister at Pakyong (Gangtok) yesterday. The inauguration took place in the august presence of Ganga Prasad, Hon’ble Governor of Sikkim; Pawan Chamling, Chief Minister of Sikkim; Suresh Prabhu, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry and Civil Aviation, among other dignitaries.
The new airport at Pakyong has been developed by the Airports Authority of India at an estimated cost of Rs 553 crore. Spread across over 202 acres of land, the area of terminal building of the airport is 3,200sq-m with a peak hour handling capacity of 100 passengers. The airport has been developed to handle ATR 72-500 type of aircraft operations.
It is the first ever greenfield airport in Northeast India located at a height of 1,399m or 4,590ft, making it one of India’s five highest-altitude airports. Difficult topography and hostile weather conditions made this project extremely challenging and exciting. An extensive use of Geo-grid soil reinforcement and slope stabilisation was used to maximise the development area. The reinforcement wall on the project is one of the tallest reinforcement walls in the world. With a 550-metre wide and 1.7km-long corridor, in which the runway and airport buildings are constructed, the terminal building has five check-in counters and one arrival carousel.
The interiors of the building emanate a sense of calm, with uncluttered spaces offering a place for passengers to relax, away from the stress of their long journeys. An internal Zen garden with a sitting Buddha statue adorns one end of the passenger concourse. The glass envelop of the terminal opens up the interiors visually towards the panoramic site of the mighty Himalayas. The terminal building has acquired a vibrant character as its glass envelope reflects the landscape imagery. The interiors of the building depict local handicrafts, murals and tourist destinations.
The terminal building is well-equipped with all modern passenger facilities, consisting of pre-engineered structure with glass and steel envelop having profile sheet roofing on steel truss. Sustainable design in engineering services, including public health, electrical, BMS, fire detection and fighting, landscaping and interior design, has facilitated a comprehensive and holistic design adding value to the building.
Pakyong Airport, would not only promote tourism, open up opportunities for Sikkimese people and bring in an era of economic development, but will also provide airlift during emergencies and disasters and give a thrust to the connectivity of the state with flights to and from Kolkata and Guwahati.
The book titled 100 Airports for New India, depicting salient features and visuals of the airport and facilities available at respective airports, was also released by the Hon’ble Prime Minister during the airport inaugural ceremony.