Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Does India's newest airport offer the world's best runway views?

Perched 1,400 metres above sea level in a remote village of north-east India, and huddled amid the far-reaching Himalayan landscape, the new Pakyong Airport is ready for business.

Located just outside Gangtok, the capital of the state of Sikkim, Pakyong will operate its first commercial flight from Kolkata this week on October 4. The airport is expected to open a new door to tourism in the region, forming a gateway to neighbouring areas including the state of West Bengal in the south (where Sikkim’s previous nearest airport was located a five-hour drive away) and Bhutan in the east.
Pakyong will operate flights twice daily flights to Kolkata and Guwahati, the largest city in the Indian state of Assam in the north-east, on India’s largest low-cost carrier SpiceJet. Flights to Paro, Bhutan’s international airport, are expected to follow in January, operated by Druk Air, Bhutan’s national carrier.

Praised as an “amazing feat of engineering”, Pakyong is one of the five highest airports in India and the first greenfield airport - one built entirely from undeveloped empty fields - in the north-east of the country.

Spanning around 900 acres, the airport grounds were carved from a mountainside and constructed using high-tech soil reinforcement and slope stabilisation techniques to ensure it can withstand movement at its high altitude, making it among the world’s tallest reinforced soil structures.
01/10/18 Soo Kim/Telegraph
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