Sikkim HC takes suo motu PIL on suspension of Spice Jet flights from Pakyong airport
Sikkim HC takes suo motu PIL on suspension of Spice Jet flights from Pakyong airport

GANGTOK | June 8, 2019:

The High Court of Sikkim has taken up a suo motu PIL following the suspension of Spice Jet flights from Pakyong airport for a period of four months.

The only commercial airline operating from Sikkim's only airport had been suspended till September 30. It connected Sikkim to Kolkata and Guwahati.

The Greenfield airport at Pakyong had been inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 24, 2018.

The first commercial flight operations from the airport commenced on October 4, 2018 between Pakyong and Kolkata and continued till May 31, this year.

"As per the report of the Registry, there ought to have been 362 flights operational days, however, the flights have been operational only for 125 days. In the newspaper, it is reported that the Pakyong Airport is totally based on Visual Flight Rules (VFR) and requires five kilometres visibility to land. It is also stated therein that should the State Government desire to install Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) mode, more land will be required. For this purpose MoUs are required to be entered into with the Airport Authority of India and the Central Government," noted the division bench of Chief Justice Vijai Kumar Bist and Justice Meenakshi Madan Rai.

Accordingly, the division bench's suo motu impleaded SpiceJet Limited as a respondent in the writ petition and ordered that notice is issued to the new respondent.

The other respondents include Airport Authority of India, State government and Central government. Counter-affidavits are to be filed within a period of four weeks.

The Airport Authority of India was directed to file all relevant documents pertaining to the airport from inception with detailed reasons as to why the flight operations have been suspended for four months since unpredictable weather is a given in this area.

The authority was also directed to give proposals for better flight operations.

The division bench directed the State government to furnish its stand as to whether they are ready to acquire/give the required land to the Airport Authority of India for installation of the IFR mode.

The Central government was directed to clear its stand pertaining to financial liabilities.

The matter would be heard next on July 8. 

Flights have been marred by frequent suspensions in the newly inaugurated airport and has been severely criticised by passengers.

Airport director, Ramtanu Saha has stated that flights will resume on October 1 after the rainy season is over. With no Instrumental Landing System(ILS) in place, this airport is solely dependent on visibility for landing which makes it difficult for flights to land in Sikkim's sole airport.

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