Siliguri: THE landlocked north-east state Sikkim, neighbour to north Bengal, today got a major connectivity boost with the first passenger flight successfully landing at its greenfield Pakyong Airport.
Pakyong Airport, located about 32 km off the state Capital Gangtok, has been developed by the Airports Authority of India (AAI). This is the first and only airport in Sikkim albeit it has an operational helipad in Gangtok.
Private airline, Spicejet, today operated the first ever passenger flight to Pakyong as part of a test run before a regular commercial service can begin. A 90-seat Q400 Bombardier fixed-wing aircraft operated by Spicejet took off from Kolkata airport at 10.46 am and landed at Pakyong just around noon.
There were over a hundred people, mostly AAI and airline staff, waiting with bated breath to witness the landing of the first passenger flight at Pakyong. As soon as the Q400 Bombardier touched down, they burst into a thunderous applause.
Rakesh Sahay, the director of Bagdogra Airport in Siliguri, said that Spicejet will start regular passenger flight from Kolkata to Pakyong in a month. The frequency and timing are yet to be finalised.
The commencement of regular flights to Pakyong will not only facilitate air connectivity to landlocked Sikkim, it will serve as a major fillip to tourism in north Bengal and Sikkim sector. It will also help decongest Bagdogra Airport, which has been strained under the ever-growing number of passengers and flights.