New Delhi, Sep 12 (IANS) Sikkim's first airport will be completed by end-2014 providing much-needed air connectivity to the landlocked state, Tourism Minister Bhim Prasad Dhungel said here Thursday.
Speaking after meeting union Tourism Minister K. Chiranjeevi, Dhungel said the airport at Pakyong, 30 km south of the state capital Gangtok, is being constructed by the Airports Authority of India on 200 acres of land. At an altitude of 4,700 feet, it will be one of the five highest airports in India.
"Work is in full swing and flights will begin from March 2015," Dhungel said.
"The airport has a 180-metre-long airstrip and will facilitate flights of ATR-7 (twin-engined short-haul turboprops) planes and will also have hangars for two ATRs," Dhungel added.
At present, the nearest airport to Gangtok is located 124 kilometres away at Bagdogra in West Bengal.
The Pakyong airport will open an alternative connectivity route for the state as at present it has to solely depend on National Highway-31 for connectivity to the rest of the country.
"The airport will facilitate free movement when the national highway is blocked by protestors from time to time," said Dhungel.
The airport will have a terminal building which can accommodate 100 people and a car park for 80 vehicles.
Dhungel also requested the tourism minister to provide central assistance of Rs.20 crore for upgrading helipads in the state.