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5 May 2018

Sikkim airport all-clear... Hill hurdle crossed, flights from puja

Pakyong airport
TT, Calcutta: Sikkim's Pakyong airport on Friday received permission to start flight operations, belying fears that a last-minute hiccup would delay its inauguration beyond the peak tourism season.

"Pakyong airport has received its aerodrome licence from the directorate general of civil aviation on Friday, enabling us to start flight operations on schedule," an official of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) said.

Low-cost airline SpiceJet has been granted permission to fly to Pakyong from Calcutta under the civil aviation ministry's regional connectivity scheme. A SpiceJet official said the airline was looking to start flying to Sikkim this Puja.

SpiceJet will operate Bombardier Q400 series aircraft with a capacity of 78 passenger seats.

In March, after a trial operation, the airline had flagged a hilltop in front of the runway as a hazard for flights taking off.

AAI officials said they had since worked on "a war footing" to get the necessary clearances. "Airport construction has been completed, overcoming various hurdles caused by geographical constraints," the AAI official said.

Tourists currently have to fly to Bagdogra in Siliguri and travel more than four hours by road from there to reach Gangtok, 123km away. The distance between Gangtok and Pakyong is 30km.

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