New airport in India soars at 4,600-foot elevation in the Himalayas

PHOTO:Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, at the inauguration of the Pakyong Airport in Gangtok, Sept. 24, 2018.PlayAFP/Getty Images
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Planes taking off from a new airport in India won't have to go far to reach cruising altitude.

On Monday, the prime minister of India Narendra Modi announced the opening of The Pakyong Airport, high up in the Himalayan state of Sikkim. The airport will be the first in the region and India’s 100th airport overall.

PHOTO: Flights to Pakyong airport in India will begin on Oct. 4, 2018. rajiv srivastava/imazinindia.com
Flights to Pakyong airport in India will begin on Oct. 4, 2018.

After the unveiling, Modi declared the unveiling was “a momentous day for the aviation sector.” He tweeted that he was confident the initiative would boost tourism and the local economy.

PHOTO: Flights to Pakyong airport in India will begin on Oct. 4, 2018. rajiv srivastava/imazinindia.com
Flights to Pakyong airport in India will begin on Oct. 4, 2018.

The nationalist prime minister took his own photos on the way to the remote, mountainous airport, located 18 miles south of the Sikkim’s capital, Gangtok. Modi described the surrounding scenery as “enchanting and incredible" in his tweet.

Pakyong Airport is located at 4,500 feet above sea level, according to the Economic Times. The total construction cost is believed to be 605 crore in Indian Rupees, or roughly $80 million, the newspaper said.

The significant investment is likely to boost Modi’s credentials as a prime minister focussed on development and enhancing India’s prestige on the world stage, analysts say.

PHOTO: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a gathering at the inauguration of the Pakyong Airport in Gangtok, Sept. 24, 2018. AFP/Getty Images
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a gathering at the inauguration of the Pakyong Airport in Gangtok, Sept. 24, 2018.

"This kind of big, glossy project fits in with Modi's longstanding image as India's 'development man' and his plans to connect the four corners of the country," Dr. Elizabeth Chatterjee, professor of political science at Queen Mary University of London, told ABC News.

"It also doesn't hurt that the new airport is only 40 miles away from the international border, where Indian and Chinese troops had a tense standoff over Chinese construction last year," she added. "This kind of development will shore up India's grip on its mountainous frontiers."

The first flight to Pakyong Airport is due to arrive at 10:55 a.m. from Kolkata on October 4, with fares from the airline SpiceJet currently set at 13,280 Indian Rupees, or around $182.

PHOTO: People ride a motorbike as they leave Pakyong Airport, the northeastern Sikkim States first airport, after its inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Pakyong, India Sept. 24, 2018. Karma Sonam Bhutia/Reuters
People ride a motorbike as they leave Pakyong Airport, the northeastern Sikkim State's first airport, after its inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Pakyong, India Sept. 24, 2018.

Despite it's sweeping mountain view, Pakyong is not one of the highest airports in the world. The single runway Daocheng Yading Airport in China is believed to be the highest at an astonishing 14,472 foot elevation according to Reuters.

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