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Sikkim’s first airport

Published: 1st Oct, 2018

  • Prime Minister of India inaugurated Sikkim’s first airport in Pakyong, near Gangtok, the capital of the state.
  • Pakyong airport became the first greenfield airport of Airports Authority of India.


  • Prime Minister of India inaugurated Sikkim’s first airport in Pakyong, near Gangtok, the capital of the state.
  • Pakyong airport became the first greenfield airport of Airports Authority of India.


Pakyong airport:

  • Pakyong airport is located around 60 km from the India-China border which ascribed it with strategic importance.
  • Prior to the Pakyong airport, Sikkim was the only state in the country without an airport.
  • The Pakyong airport is one of the tallest reinforced soil structures in the world.
    a. The land for the airport was carved from the mountainside using massive geotechnical cut and fill engineering works. The state-of-art geogrid soil reinforcement and slope stabilization techniques were employed.
  • The airport is spread over 201 acres and is located on top of a hill at 4,500 feet above sea level.
  • Italian geotechnical company Maccaferri, which completed the project won the ‘International Project of the Year’ award at the Ground Engineering Awards 2012 for its work in constructing 70m high reinforced soil walls and slopes at Pakyong airport.

Greenfield Airports:

  • Greenfield projectis one that lacks constraints imposed by prior work.
  • Greenfield airports are new airports which are constructed on an undeveloped site. They are built from scratch on a new location because the existing airport is unable to meet the traffic requirements or there is no airport in the area, as the case may be.

    India’s Greenfield airports policy:

    • Ministry of Civil Aviation had notified its Greenfield airports policy in 2008
    • Greenfield airports to be set up by AAI would be constructed through public private partnerships (PPP).
    • Land for Greenfield airports would have to be provided by AAI. Further, financing gaps, if any, can be bridged through the Viability Gap Funding scheme, which provides for a capital grant of up to 20% of the project cost.
    • Concessions for the development of Greenfield airports would be awarded through open competitive bidding, based on model bidding documents.
    • In north-eastern areas of India, where it may not be feasible to follow the PPP route, AAI could set up Greenfield airports on its own, with approval from the Government on a case-to-case basis. Land for setting up Greenfield airports would preferably be provided by the beneficiary government/local government, free of cost and free from all encumbrances to AAI.

    Changes under NABH Nirmaan, 2018:
    • New financial model for building greenfield airports aimed at making air travel more affordable and addressing concerns over disputes related to tariff.
    • Concession fee per passenger proposal to replace revenue sharing proposal as bid parameter for airport privatisation tenders;
    • Airport tariffs "shall be predetermined by the Concessioning Authority at the beginning of the Concession Period.
    • Airport tariffs to be determined by "Maximum Blended Aeronautical Yield (MBAY) in terms of INR per passenger", rather than capital expenditure;
    • MBAY of INR400 (USD5.7) per passenger for all greenfield airport project proposed for FY2018/19 based on "projected cash flow analysis for greenfield airports of different capacities and a review of aeronautical yields at Indian and global airports in the recent past".
    • The new model will be followed for building the Jewar airport in Uttar Pradesh.


  • Paykong airport is a move in right direction to boost connectivity and tourism in north-east state of Sikkim.
  • Proximity to Chinese border makes Paykong airport strategically an airfield of immense importance.The airport will not only make the region much more accessible but will also help the country to get a strategic advantage over neighbour China.

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