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 to Everest Base Camp 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

DateAirlinesCall SignFatality
1973-10-15Royal Nepal Airlines9N ABG0
1991-06-09Royal Nepal Airlines9N ABA0
1992-09-26Royal Nepal Airlines9N ACI0
2004-05-25Yeti Airlines9N AFD3
2004-10-01Sita Airlines9N AHD0
2008-10-08Yeti Airlines9N AFE18
2010-10-12Sita Airlines9N AHB0
2013-09-26Air Dynasty Helicopter9N AEX0
2017-05-27Summit Airlines9N AKY2

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 airline you made your booking with.

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Article by Pradeep Guragain

Pradeep is the co-founder of Magical Nepal. He was born and bred in Nepal and is a seasoned hiker and rider.

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