Pakyong airport on the verge of closure, flights suspended

UJAL PRADHAN GANGTOK, EOI, JULY 23, 2022: The lone airport of the border state of Sikkim connecting the rest of the world is on the verge of closure after the suspension of services by Spice Jet airlines for 51 days without public notice, and there is no sign of its resumption. 
On the visit to the airport that is claimed as state-of-the-art and one of the best greenfield airports of India on Saturday, a team of newspersons found only security personnel but none of the airport officials who could comment on the closure of service by Spice Jet since June 2.This is not the first time that the greenfield airport at the strategic order state of Sikkim has closed. 
That airport was closed for 21months from June 2019 to January2021, citing unconducive landing and weather conditions as the reason; and the requirement of widening the runway by 40 metres. 
At the intervention of Sikkim High Court, the Spice Jet and the Airport Authority of India, the airport came into operation formally on the third week of January 2021;after the completion of widening and basic strip works and then induction of Instrument Landing System. 
The AAI has also assured to explore Required Navigation Performance-Authorization Required (RNP-AR) with the help of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and has cleared all the hurdles faced during landing and take off which requires visibility requirement of five kilometres. 
Pakyong Greenfield falls under the category 2C airport under Director General Civil Aviation(DGCA) norms. Despite the assurances and the clearing of all hurdles as per the laid-down norms of DGCA 2 C category airports, the service provider without any notice has suspended its services to its customers. 
On the the internet, however, tickets are shown as 'available.' However, there has been no single flight since June 2 last. 
This correspondent tried to contact Spice Jet office in Kolkotta, but the only response was that services had been cancelled due to bad weather conditions. 
The greenfield airport is situated at a distance of 30 km from the state capital of Gangtok ,strategically located near several international borders. 
It was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 24,2018.The first commercial flight operations from the Pakyong Airport began on October 4, 2018,between Pakyong and Kolkata, and continued til l May 31, 2020

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