Druk Air of Bhutan wants to start service from Pakyong

Report by: 
SUJAL PRADHAN
Gangtok
19 Sep 2018

Druk Air, the national airline of Bhutan, has approached the Indian aviation authorities to start a service from the newly constructed Pakyong airport in Sikkim in January, Director Airport Authority of India (Sikkim Region) Manjunath R. said on Tuesday. Since it would be an international service, the final air space agreement would have to be concluded by the Centre. “Our security norms are, however, fully functional and we are ready for international passengers also,” he said.
“We have already installed checkpoints for customs and immigration,” he said. The airport area was 3,200 square metres with a 1.7 km-long runway and it could handle 100 passengers. Chartered flight services would soon start at the airport.
Pakyong, Sikkim's first airport, at Pakyong is all set for  inauguration on  Septmeber 23 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. To take stock of the final preparation, Sikkim Minister of Civil Aviation and Tourism Ugen T Gyatso Bhutia and Minister for Building. Housing and Transport D T Lepcha visited the airport during the day.
“Greenfield airports have their own beauty and merits. You will experience them when flights start operating. Moreover, the airport will have multi-dimensional benefits for Sikkim which will gradually come to the fore with time,” Ugen T Gyatso Bhutia told the media persons.
“Pakyong airport has been included under the Centre’s ambitious UDAN scheme. This is bound to enhance regional connectivity aiding the development of Sikkim’s tourism sector. Also, gradually, the airport will connect Sikkim with other countries in the region like Bhutan, Kathmandu and Bangkok where people from the state usually go on vacations.”
Under the UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) scheme for enhancing regional connectivity, the cap on fares for the routes is Rs 2,600. With an eye on the Puja holiday travel, SpiceJet is set to start operating daily flights to and from Kolkata and Guwahati from October 8. SpiceJet will operate Bombardier Q400 aircraft with 78 seats on this sector.
Indian Air Force’s Dornier 228 was the first aircraft to be tested from Pakyong on March 5 this year. Following this, SpiceJet conducted the successful test flight of the 78-seater Bombardier Q400 from Kolkata to Pakyong on March 10 leading to security clearances for commercial operations.