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Good news comes for gaming and casino regulars. Sikkim, the ‘Jewel of the North-east’ and the only destination in India where casino operations are legally run on land has now been added to the air map of India! While the state’s first airport, the ambitious â‚¹600 Crores Pakyong project was already completed in March, official permission for flights to be run to the airport was awaited.
And now, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has finally given the clearance to low-cost airline SpiceJet for kicking off operations at Pakyong. The carrier will begin daily flights from Kolkata to Pakyong on October 4, followed by flights between Pakyong and Guwahati from October 16.
There are currently three casinos operational in the state, namely, Casino Sikkim at the Royal Plaza Hotel aka Royal Casino, the Casino Deltin Denzong at Hotel Denzong Regency and Casino Mahjong at the Mayfair Spa Resort & Casino. The direct flights will drastically reduce the time taken by tourists and gaming enthusiasts to reach Gangtok.
“We have been eagerly looking forward to the opening of the Pakyong airport.Most of our guests are outstation visitors and the nearest airport is at Bagdogra that is 123 kilometres, so four to five hours away. The road journey from Bagdogra to Gangtok is very tedious, so we are very happy that the airport will bring in more visitors and add numbers to our casino visitors,” Senior Seat Manager at Deltin Denzong, Pravin Thapar told PokerGuru.
Thapar informed that the Deltin Denzong has a separate poker room with six poker tables. Primarily, Texas Hold ‘em is played in the poker room, while Omaha is organized on demand.
SpiceJet has announced a one-way introductory fare of â‚¹2,600 per person from Kolkata to Pakyong and bookings opened on Friday. The first SpiceJet flight for Pakyong will depart at 9:30 am on October 4 to arrive at Pakyong at 10:55 am. Till October 15, the return flight will take off at 11:15 am at Pakyong and reach Kolkata at 12:45 pm.
From October 16, SpiceJet will operate an onward flight from Pakyong to Guwahati at 11:15 am and return at 2:05 pm. The Kolkata-bound flight will depart from Pakyong at 2:50 pm and land in Kolkata at 4:20 pm.
Sikkim is the last among the Indian states to have an airport of its own and the Pakyong airport is the first Greenfield airport of the north-east. According to Director, Pakyong Airport Authority of India (AAI), R. Manjunatha, the inaugural date for the airport was yet to be fixed but preparations for the operations were on track.
SpiceJet had made a successful trial run to Pakyong on March 10, with its 78-seater Bombardier Q400 series aircraft. The same month, the Indian Air Force (IAF) also landed its Dornier 228 twice at the airport. In May, the airport obtained its license to run commercial flights with Union Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu announcing the same on May 5.
With bookings for the flights open, domestic travelers looking for a weekend getaway to their favorite casinos in Sikkim can make their travel plans well in advance!