New airports in remote India

It's amazing to see how much India has grown in terms of its aviation infrastructure. With the addition of over 100 operational airports, it's becoming easier for people to travel to different parts of the country. What's even more impressive is that some of the newest airports are located in remote tourist destinations like Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. This not only opens up these areas for tourism but also provides better connectivity to the local communities. Overall, it's a great development for India's tourism industry and the country as a whole.

The expansion of operational airports in India to over 100, with a focus on remote tourist destinations like Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, is a significant development for the country's aviation and tourism sectors. This initiative holds several potential benefits, but it also raises some important considerations that need to be addressed.

All about expansion of Indian Aviation sector

India has made significant progress in expanding its aviation infrastructure to meet the growing demand for air travel in the country. India now has over 100 operational airports spread across various regions, including some remote tourist destinations like Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. This development not only improves connectivity and accessibility but also boosts tourism and economic growth in the areas. 

Sikkim's Pakyong Airport

Pakyong Airport in Sikkim holds several notable distinctions. It stands as the sole airport in Sikkim, marking a significant milestone for the state. Developed as part of a Greenfield Project, it is the first airport in India's northeastern region. Notably, Pakyong Airport achieved the distinction of being India's 100th operational airport. Nestled at an altitude of 4646 feet, it also ranks as one of the highest airports in India, offering breathtaking views due to its picturesque location. Situated around 31 kilometres from Sikkim's capital, Gangtok, the airport serves as a gateway to this scenic state.

Despite its recognition as India's 100th operational airport, Pakyong Airport has faced challenges, both in terms of physical conditions and operational history.

Sikkim's Pakyong Airport

History of Pakyong Airport

Formally inaugurated in September 2018, commercial flights commenced ten days later, on October 4th. However, the airport experienced difficulties in managing adverse weather conditions and turbulence. Visibility issues persisted, leading to the suspension of services by SpiceJet, one of the airlines operating there. The airport remained non-operational for nearly 19 months until improvements were made. During this period, it transitioned from relying on Visual Flight Rules (VFR) to implementing Required Navigation Performance (RNP) approaches, better suited for challenging weather conditions.

Importance of Pakyong Airport

Pakyong Airport holds immense significance for Sikkim, a state that previously lacked a functional airport until 2018. Travellers bound for Sikkim had to reach the nearest airport in Bagdogra, West Bengal, and then proceed by road, covering a distance of around 124 kilometres. 

The airport's establishment offers direct connectivity to Sikkim, eliminating the need to travel by road from Bagdogra. Initially offering flights between Kolkata and Gangtok, and later Guwahati and Gangtok, the airport has expanded its routes. SpiceJet now provides non-stop flights to Gangtok from cities like Delhi and Mumbai, as well as connecting flights such as Hyderabad-Pakyong.

The airport's proximity to the Indo-China border, situated around 60 kilometres away, adds to its strategic significance.

Visiting Sikkim

For those planning to explore the captivating state of Sikkim, Pakyong Airport offers a direct route. Flights to Kolkata, Delhi, or Mumbai can connect to Gangtok if direct flights to Pakyong are unavailable. Opting for flights to Bagdogra remains a viable option due to the wider range of flight choices available there.

For travellers from the United States, booking flights to India through Indian Eagle is recommended. Upon arrival, various travel options are available to reach Sikkim, providing visitors with the opportunity to experience the state's breathtaking beauty.

Visiting Sikkim

Problems facing India Aviation Sector since it’s expansion

While the expansion of airports is a positive development, it also poses some challenges and opportunities for the aviation industry in India. One of the challenges is the need to ensure safety and security standards at all airports, especially in remote areas where weather conditions and terrain can be unpredictable. Another challenge is the need to balance the demand for air travel with environmental concerns, such as carbon emissions and noise pollution. 

  • Infrastructure Challenges

Developing airport infrastructure in remote regions presents substantial challenges due to rugged terrain, geographical constraints, and adverse weather conditions. Constructing runways, terminals, and other facilities can be more complex and expensive, often requiring innovative engineering solutions and significant investments.

  • Operational Difficulties

Remote areas frequently experience unpredictable and harsh weather conditions, including heavy rainfall, fog, and snowfall. These conditions can lead to flight cancellations, delays, and increased operational costs for airlines. Ensuring safe operations under such circumstances requires advanced technologies and specialised training for pilots and air traffic controllers.

  • Limited Accessibility

The absence of proper transportation links between the airport and nearby towns or cities can hinder passenger access. Inadequate road and rail connectivity can discourage potential travellers from choosing air travel, limiting the airport's potential and economic viability.

  • Low Passenger Demand

Remote regions often have lower population densities and reduced business activities, resulting in lower demand for air travel. Airlines might struggle to fill flights, impacting their profitability and leading to fewer flight options for passengers. This challenge can be addressed through targeted marketing, competitive pricing, and promoting tourism.

  • High Operating Costs

Operating and maintaining an airport in remote areas can be costlier than in urban locations. Transporting personnel, equipment, and supplies to these areas can be expensive. Moreover, providing necessary facilities and services might require higher expenses due to the limited local infrastructure.

  • Skilled Workforce Shortages

Attracting and retaining a skilled workforce, including pilots, air traffic controllers, and maintenance personnel, can be a major challenge in remote areas. Limited amenities and entertainment options might deter professionals from relocating, resulting in staffing shortages that impact airport operations.

  • Sustainability and Environmental Impact

Developing new airports in remote areas can have negative environmental consequences. Construction and operation can disrupt local ecosystems, lead to increased noise pollution, and alter land use patterns. Balancing the economic benefits with environmental conservation and community well-being requires careful planning, adherence to regulations, and sustainable practices.

Overcoming these challenges necessitates collaborative efforts among government agencies, private sector stakeholders, local communities, and aviation experts. Strategic planning, investment in resilient infrastructure, tailored marketing strategies, and targeted skill development initiatives are essential to ensure the successful establishment and sustainable operation of new airports in remote India.

Benefits of expanding the Indian Aviation Sector 

The establishment of new airports in remote areas of India ushers in transformative benefits, including enhanced connectivity, economic growth, tourism promotion, and regional development. These airports act as gateways to previously isolated regions, catalysing job creation, trade opportunities, and cultural exchange, while also fostering infrastructure development and improving overall quality of life for local residents.

Below are more elaborate points

  • Enhanced Connectivity

New airports in remote areas bring significant improvements in connectivity, linking previously isolated regions with major cities and global destinations. This increased accessibility reduces travel time and offers residents access to essential services, education, healthcare, and business opportunities.

  • Economic Growth

The establishment of new airports stimulates economic activity in remote regions. It attracts investments from various sectors, such as hospitality, tourism, trade, and agriculture. This, in turn, creates jobs, generates local revenue, and contributes to the overall economic development of the area.

  • Tourism Promotion

Remote areas often possess unique natural beauty, cultural heritage, or historical significance. The presence of airports makes these attractions more accessible to tourists, leading to an influx of visitors. This boosts the local tourism industry, increases revenue for businesses, and creates opportunities for cultural exchange.

  • Regional Development

New airports act as catalysts for regional development. They attract businesses, encourage investments in infrastructure, and contribute to the growth of local industries. This can help reduce economic disparities between urban and rural areas, fostering balanced development.

  • Trade and Commerce

The presence of an airport facilitates the movement of goods and products, opening up markets and opportunities for local industries. Export-oriented businesses can expand their reach, leading to increased trade, economic diversification, and higher income for residents.

  • Skill Development

The establishment of airports necessitates the training and employment of skilled professionals. This includes pilots, air traffic controllers, maintenance personnel, and customer service staff. The local workforce benefits from skill development, job creation, and improved employability.

  • Social and Cultural Exchange

Improved connectivity encourages social and cultural exchange between remote areas and the rest of the country. It fosters interactions, understanding, and integration among diverse communities, enriching the cultural fabric of both the local region and the nation as a whole.

  • Infrastructure Development
    Developing new airports often requires the development of supporting infrastructure such as roads, hotels, and transportation networks. This enhances overall local infrastructure, improving the quality of life for residents and attracting more visitors.
  • Government Revenue

New airports contribute to government revenue through taxes, fees, and charges. The economic activity generated around the airport boosts tax collection, enabling governments to fund public services and development projects in remote regions.

  • Strategic Importance

Airports in remote areas can have strategic importance, particularly in border regions. They can enhance security and defence capabilities, aiding in border surveillance and protection.

  • Technology and Innovation

The establishment of new airports often involves the implementation of advanced technologies and systems. This can drive technological innovation, knowledge sharing, and skill development within the local community.

In summary, new airports in remote areas of India bring a multitude of benefits that extend beyond mere transportation. These benefits span economic, social, cultural, and infrastructural dimensions, contributing to the holistic development of remote regions and enhancing the overall connectivity and well-being of their residents.


What are new airports in remote India?

New airports in remote India refer to recently established aviation facilities in less accessible regions that aim to improve connectivity and accessibility to previously underserved areas.

What benefits do these new airports bring?

These airports bring enhanced connectivity, economic growth, tourism promotion, regional development, job opportunities, and improved quality of life to local residents.

What challenges do new remote airports face?

Challenges include infrastructure complexities due to difficult terrain, operational difficulties caused by adverse weather, limited accessibility, high operating costs, low passenger demand, and skilled workforce shortages.

How do these airports promote economic growth?

They attract investments, stimulate local industries, and facilitate trade, leading to job creation, increased revenue, and overall economic development in the region.

What impact do these airports have on tourism?

New airports make remote regions more accessible to tourists, contributing to increased visitor numbers, revenue for local businesses, and cultural exchange.

How do these airports contribute to regional development?

They act as catalysts for regional growth, attracting businesses, improving infrastructure, and reducing economic disparities between remote and urban areas.