Lukla Tenzing Hillary Airport

Lukla Airport, which was renamed the Tenzing Hillary Airport in 2008, is both extremely small and extremely busy. With its short runaway, steep incline, and quickly changing weather, Lukla has one of the most challenging runways in the world. In fact, for the past 20 years it has been named the most dangerous airport in the world. High winds, low lying clouds and sudden changes in visibility are some of the reasons behind this title. Bad weather is also a huge factor in the frequent cancellation of flights. Lukla is a gateway for Everest base camp helicopter tour or trek

Lukla Airport Facts

  1. Elevation: 2845 m | 9334 ft
  2. Runway: Asphalt paved
  3. Runway length: 527 m | 1729 ft
  4. Runway width: 30 m | 98 ft
  5. Gradient: 11.7 %
  6. Air traffic service: Aerodrome Flight Information Service
  7. Flight time: 6:30 am to 3:00 pm
  8. Number of flight per day: 50+

Most of the flights into Lukla are passenger planes bringing trekkers to the area. There are limited flights for cargo. All flights into Lukla come from Kathmandu and are operated by:

  • Summit Air
  • Nepal Air
  • Simrik Air
  • Tara Air
  • Sita Air.

There is space for only four short takeoff and landing twin otter planes at any given time. Plus a couple of helicopter, which are located in a different location, 140 metres north of the control tower.

Lukla Airport – No room for error

Date Airlines Call Sign Fatality
1973-10-15 Royal Nepal Airlines 9N ABG 0
1991-06-09 Royal Nepal Airlines 9N ABA 0
1992-09-26 Royal Nepal Airlines 9N ACI 0
2004-05-25 Yeti Airlines 9N AFD 3
2004-10-01 Sita Airlines 9N AHD 0
2008-10-08 Yeti Airlines 9N AFE 18
2010-10-12 Sita Airlines 9N AHB 0
2013-09-26 Air Dynasty Helicopter 9N AEX 0
2017-05-27 Summit Airlines 9N AKY 2

Flight Cancellation

Due to the high probability of bad weather delaying flights, it is recommended that trekkers build in some days at the end of their trek and not have an international flight too soon after the scheduled Lukla to Kathmandu flight. If your flight is on time, then that’s great, you can spend some more days in Kathmandu relaxing or shopping, but if you are delayed, by building in extra time, you will not miss your international flight!

In case of long delays (it has been known for bad weather to close in and delay flights for up to 10 days), there is the option of chartering a helicopter from Lukla. This is an expensive option though between USD 2,000 and 2,500 for a five seater helicopter. However, if your flight is cancelled, you can claim back 100% of the money from the travel agent or airline you made your booking with.

About Author

Pradeep is the co-founder of Magical Nepal. He has trekked to almost all the trekking places in Nepal. He has been to Everest base camp more than eight times. He is the one who mostly answers your queries by giving the personal touch and experience.

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