Sikkim Hotel Chain Launches Charter Flights As Bagdogra Closure Disrupts Travel

| Updated: 09 April, 2022 6:31 pm IST
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GANGTOK: A hotel chain has announced charter flights between Pakyong near Sikkim’s capital Gangtok and Kolkata to mitigate the impact of the temporary closure of Bagdogra airport near Siliguri for two weeks.

Udaan Hotels & Resorts, a hotel chain with properties in Sikkim and North Bengal, has announced to operate 12 charter flights between April 12 and April 24 when the Bagdogra airport, a major nod of connectivity in the region will remain shut for scheduled maintenance, bringing respite to the tourism industry.

The Bagdogra airport will remain closed from April 11 to April 25, the Airport Authority of India has announced.

These flights will depart Kolkata’s Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata at 10.30 am and reach Pakyong airport, the lone airport of Sikkim, at 11.40 pm, while the return flight will depart Pakyong at noon and reach Kolkata at 1.30 pm, the company has said.

Udaan’s charter flights will primarily be targeted at business and leisure travellers who want to skip the four-hour-long journey from Bagdogra to Sikkim.

Location near Siliguri, Bagdogra airport has flights connecting the region with several major cities across the country. Sikkim’s first airport in Pakyong town near Gangtok has two daily flights that connect the Himalayan state with Kolkata and the national capital Delhi.

Commercial airline SpiceJet has also pitched in to address the demand for more flights to Sikkim. An official from the airlines confirmed that an additional flight will be added to Pakyong from Delhi and Kolkata from April 11. The 72-seater Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 aircraft will take off from Delhi and Kolkata at 2:10 pm and 11:50 respectively, the official said.

The issue of connectivity ails the region particularly in the Monsoon season when flights to Pakyong airport are frequently cancelled. The highway that connects Sikkim with the rest of the country — NH 10 is also marred by road blockages due to landslides during the season.

“We get a lot of tourists from Bagdogra airport. The long closure of the airport means travellers would be skipping the region,” said Manoj Singh, a travel operator in Siliguri.

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