Pakyong Airport

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Pakyong Airport
Airport type Public
Operator AAI
Serves Gangtok
Location Pakyong, Sikkim, India
Elevation AMSL 1,399 m / 4,590 ft
Coordinates 27°13′40″N 088°35′13″E / 27.22778°N 88.58694°E / 27.22778; 88.58694Coordinates: 27°13′40″N 088°35′13″E / 27.22778°N 88.58694°E / 27.22778; 88.58694
Pakyong Airport is located in Sikkim
Pakyong Airport
Pakyong Airport
Location in Sikkim
Direction Length Surface
m ft
02/20 1,700 5,577

Pakyong Airport is a greenfield airport near Gangtok, the state capital of Sikkim, India.[1] The airport, spread over 400 ha (990 acres), is located at Pakyong village about 35km (22 mi) south of Gangtok.[2] At 4500 ft, Pakyong Airport is one of the five highest airports in India.[3] It is also the first greenfield airport to be constructed in the Northeastern Region of India,[4] the 100th operational airport in India, and the only airport in the state of Sikkim.[5] [6]

The Pakyong Airport project is one of the tallest reinforced soil structures in the world.[7]


Prior to the construction of Pakyong Airport, Sikkim had been the sole state in India possessing no functional airport.[8] Previously, the nearest airports used to access Sikkim were Bagdogra, located 124 km (77 mi) (and a five hour drive) away in the neighboring state of West Bengal, and Paro Airport in Bhutan.[9]

The project to develop Pakyong Airport was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs in October 2008. The Punj Lloyd Group was awarded the 2,640 million (US$37 million) contract to construct a runway, taxiway, apron drainage system, and electrical work for the greenfield airport in January 2009. The foundation stone for the greenfield airport was laid by the then Civil Aviation Minister, Praful Patel, in February 2009.[10]

The project was initially slated to be completed by 2012.

Protests by local villagers, demanding proper rehabilitation and compensation, had resulted in suspension of work in January 2014. The AAI intervened and held discussions with agitating villagers and paid part compensation allowing work to resume in October 2014. However, in January 2015, work came to a halt once again as villagers took to protests.[11] In July 2015, AAI and the State Government signed an MoU with AAI, promising to shift the affected households by August 15 so that AAI could resume work from October 2015.[12] These protest-related delays and landslides upslope of the runway resulted in suspension of work twice, escalating costs from 3,090 million (US$43 million) to 6,050 million (US$84 million).[12] Maximally ecological slope-stabilization techniques were used to remedy the landslide situation.[13]


The airport was built by the AAI at an estimated cost of 605 crore[12] featuring a 1,700 m × 30 m (5,577 ft × 98 ft) runway and a 116 m (381 ft) long taxiway connecting it to an apron measuring 106 by 76 metres (348 ft × 249 ft) that can accommodate two ATR 72 aircraft at a time.

A terminal building measuring 2,380 m2 (25,600 sq ft) with a capacity of 100 passengers, a car park for 80 vehicles and a fire station cum Air Traffic Control Tower was constructed by Ms PABSCON. Navigation facilities include NDB, DVOR, High Intensity Runway Lights (HIRL), airport beacon, and a PAPI.[14]

The land for the airport was carved from the mountainside using massive geotechnical 'cut and fill' engineering works. These state-of-the-art geogrid soil reinforcement and slope stabilisation techniques were employed as traditional retaining structures and embankments were ruled out as being unfeasible. Italian geotechnical company Maccaferri executed the project that envisaged a 550 m (1,800 ft) wide, 1.7 km (1.1 mi) long corridor on which the runway and airport buildings are to be constructed. The company, which completed the project with partners Mott MacDonald and Punj Lloyd, won the 'International Project of the Year' award at the Ground Engineering Awards 2012 for its work in constructing 70 m (230 ft) high reinforced soil walls and slopes at the site. [15]

Commercial Flight Operations[edit]

On 5 March 2018 an IAF Dornier 228 landed for the first time at the airport.[16]

The first landing by a commercial airliner at the airport was by a Spicejet Bombardier aircraft on 10 March 2018.[17]

On 5 May 2018, the airport received its commercial operating license,[18] and Spicejet obtained permission to operate flights between Pakyong and Kolkata under the civil aviation ministry’s regional connectivity scheme.[19] Although it was initially confirmed that Spicejet would operate its first commercial flight from Kolkata on 4 October 2018,[20] this was later pushed back to 8 October 2018.[21] Druk Air plans to launch flights between Pakyong and Paro on 1 January 2019.[22]

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi plans to inaugurate Pakyong Airport on 23 September 2018[23]

Military Flight Operations[edit]

As Pakyong Airport sits approximately 60 km (37.28 mi) from the India-China border, it is considered strategically important. It has been reported that the Indian Air Force (IAF) would have the ability to land certain military aircraft at the site, if necessary.[24] As a result, the ministries of home affairs and civil aviation are disputing which should be in charge of securing the airport. The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) favors the use of local police. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) backs the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which handles airport security at 59 other airports across the country.[25]

Border disputes have gripped this Himalayan region for decades. Between June and August 2017, the latest stand-off took place between China and India over the Doklam pass. On the tri-junction between China, India and Bhutan, it is situated roughly 54 km (33.55 mi) west of Pakyong Airport;[26] see 2017 China–India border standoff.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Druk Air Paro (begins 1 January 2019)[27]
SpiceJet Guwahati (begins 16 October 2018),[28] Kolkata (begins 8 October 2018)[21]


  1. ^ "Sikkim to have 100th functional airport in India". 
  2. ^ "Wait for Sikkim air link". 
  3. ^ "Sikkim's Greenfield Airport". Punjlloyd. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  4. ^ "Sikkim's Pakyong airport stuns before it flies". 
  5. ^ "Sikkim to get its first airport at Pakyong". The Indian Express. 17 November 2007. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  6. ^ "Pakyong airport in Sikkim to become the 100th functional airport in India: Jayant Sinha". Financial Express. PTI. 3 May 2018. Retrieved 5 May 2018. 
  7. ^ "Sikkim airport project wins UK award". The Economic Times. 15 May 2012. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  8. ^ Dey, Panchali. "Pakyong Airport to finally become operational this month". HappyTrips. Times of India. Retrieved 6 June 2018. 
  9. ^ Sen, Sutapa (19 August 2018). "Good news: Sikkim's first airport ready to start operations, 5 facts you need to know". DNA. iligent Media Corporation Ltd. Retrieved 21 August 2018. 
  10. ^ "Pakyong, first-ever airport in Sikkim, makes steady progress". ProjectsMonitor. 6 December 2010. Archived from the original on 19 July 2012. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  11. ^ "North East's first greenfield airport comes to a halt". Business Standard. 30 January 2015. Retrieved 7 May 2015. 
  12. ^ a b c "AAI, Sikkim govt sign MoU for Pakyong Airport". Business Standard. 3 July 2015. Retrieved 6 July 2015. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Civil aviation sec. inspects airport construction in Sikkim". iSikkim. 9 June 2011. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  15. ^ "Sikkim airport project wins UK award". The Economic Times. 15 May 2012. Retrieved 4 August 2012. 
  16. ^ IAF's Dornier aircraft lands at Pakyong airport Economic Times 5 March 2018
  17. ^ Spicejet Bombardier Q400 78 seater aircraft makes historic landing at Pakyong Airport Voice of Sikkim 10 March 2018
  18. ^ "Warm-up drill for Pakyong flights". 
  19. ^ "Now You Can Fly To Sikkim As Pakyong Airport Gets License". NDTV. Press Trust of India. 5 May 2018. Retrieved 5 May 2018. 
  20. ^ "SpiceJet To Kick Off Operations From Sikkim's First Airport on October 4". News18. Retrieved 2 September 2018. 
  21. ^ a b "Sikkim flight pushed back by four days". The Telegraph. Retrieved 16 September 2018. 
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ Sen, Sutapa (19 August 2018). "Good news: Sikkim's first airport ready to start operations, 5 facts you need to know". DNA. iligent Media Corporation Ltd. Retrieved 21 August 2018. 
  25. ^ Chauhan, Neerah. "2 mantris spar over Sikkim airport security". The Times of India (25 July 2018). Retrieved 21 August 2018. 
  26. ^ Garver, John (2017-07-16). "This standoff is China telling India to accept changing realities". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2017-11-22. 
  27. ^
  28. ^

External links[edit]