• Raj Kumar Basnet
  • Last Updated on Jul 2, 2024

Lukla Airport, or Tenzing-Hillary Airport, is a vital airstrip in Nepal's Everest region. It is the primary entry point for travelers who wish to visit Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world. Stepping onto the beautiful town of Lukla, you are surrounded by picturesque villages and towering mountains. This experience will not only be memorable, but it also builds up the anticipation for the journey of a lifetime. The remarkable Lukla Airport begins an adventurous expedition that promises you breathtaking mountain peaks, Sherpa hospitality, and the spirit of Everest Base Camp Trekking. Get ready to explore the majestic landscapes, which have inspired adventurers and travelers for years, as Lukla welcomes enthusiasts like you to the enchanting realm of the Everest region.

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History of Lukla Airport

The construction of the Lukla Airport began in the early 1960s and was completed in 1964 under the supervision of Sir Edmund Hillary, one of the first two to summit Mount Everest. In 2008, the airport was named Tenzing-Hillary Airport in honor of Edumund himself and Tenzing Norgay, his climbing partner. Establishing the airport was pivotal in facilitating easy access to the Everest region and developing tourism there. Since its opening, the Lukla Airport has undergone several changes and developments to accommodate the increasing traffic over the years. The airport runway was paved in 2001, significantly improving safety and operational efficiency. Moreover, the airport's infrastructure has been enhanced with advanced communication systems, better terminal facilities, and emergency services to support increasing aviation demands.

Lukla Airport Elevation

Lukla Airport, one of the highest-situated airports in the world, stands at an elevation of 2,860 meters (9,383 feet). Its exact coordinates are 27°41′N 86°43′E, locating it in the Solukhumbu District of Nepal. The airport is approximately 140km northeast of the capital city Kathmandu.

Lukla Airport Terminal and Runway

The airport terminal is basic, featuring facilities that accommodate the needs of the travelers visiting Lukla. On the other hand, the airport's runway is shorter than most domestic airports worldwide. It is 30 meters (98 feet) wide and 527 meters (1 729 feet) long. Moreover, the runway has an incline, sloping from 12% at the high to the low end. This significantly assists aircraft in accelerating when taking off and decelerating when landing. The runaway of the Lukla airport is oriented in a northwest-southeast direction. As a result, the airport’s distinctive location and unique characteristics make it one of the world's most exciting and adventurous airports.

How does Lukla Airport operate?

The domestic airport is busy throughout the year, especially during peak seasons from September to November and March to May. Due to the high number of passengers, you might have to ride from Kathmandu to Manthali and board a flight to Lukla. As an STOL airport, mostly Dornier, Twin Otter, Pilatus Turbo Porter, and L-410 turbojet aircraft fly to Lukla. Nepal Civil Aviation Authority, or CAAN, allows these aircraft to take flight when the visibility is 16,400 or more. As a result, all flights arriving and departing from Lukla follow the Visual Flight Rules (VFR). Moreover, landing at the airport requires years of experience and exceptional skill, and only qualified pilots can conduct the flights to Lukla. CAAN, or The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal, states that the pilots must have more than a year of experience in STOL airports, have completed over 100 STOL flights, and have flown to Lukla Airport at least ten times under the supervision of a certified pilot. Besides, the airport is in a high mountain region with unpredictable weather. So, the flight takes place around 6:00 am to avoid delays and cancellations. This significantly narrows the time window for conducting flights from and to Lukla, making the Lukla Airport very busy.

What is the cost of a flight to Lukla?

The flight cost from Kathmandu to Lukla is approximately USD 180 per person. However, the price might differ depending on the time of year you travel. If you are planning to book any Everest expedition package with Outfitter Nepal, we will process the booking in advance at a cheaper rate. The flight cost might also significantly decrease if any group offers are available.

What is the Luggage weight limit for Lukla Flights?

For your flight to Lukla airport, you can carry up to 15kg of luggage at no additional cost, including 10 kilograms of duffle bag and 5 kg of hand carry. You will be charged extra if your luggage is over the limit. So, consider the luggage weight limit while boarding a flight to the Everest region. We also advise you to pack all the essential documents, valuables, and medicines in your bag pack.

Lukla Airport to Mount Everest

Flying to the Lukla airport marks the beginning of the iconic expeditions in the Everest region. Lukla is the starting point of several treks, including the iconic Everest Base Camp Trek. The location of the airport and the easy access save valuable time and energy while traveling the region. Over the years, Lukla Airport's convenience and comfort have become integral to the Everest adventure experience. Moreover, it has reduced the logistic challenges for travelers who wish to attempt their goals of conquering peaks and exploring new destinations.

How to reach Lukla?

The flight from Kathmandu to Lukla Airport is a popular route for travelers visiting the Everest region of Nepal. Apart from boarding a plane, there are other alternative means of transport to reach Lukla.

By Jeep: You can only drive some parts of the way from Kathmandu to Lukla. Our journey kicks off with a ride to Salleri, which is about 160 km away from Kathmandu. After you arrive at the destination, we can begin our hike to Lukla, which takes around 2-3 days to complete.

By Helicopter: Another means of transport to Lukla is booking a helicopter. It will take around 25 to 30 minutes to reach Lukla. Unlike boarding a plane, it is more expensive but offers a swift and comfortable mode of transportation. Additionally, you will have a bird’s eye view of the majestic Himalayas and the landscapes around you.

When is the best time to travel to Lukla?

Lukla is the cultural melting of the Everest region, where thousands of travelers and adventure enthusiasts worldwide come to begin their journey. The overall experience of the expedition you choose will significantly be influenced by the time you are traveling. Spring (March to May) and Autumn (Sep-Nov) are the best times to travel in the Lukla or the Everest region. During this time of the year, the sky is clear, offering more visibility of the surrounding area. The wind is mild, with fewer clouds and low chances of rainfall or snowfall. Moreover, the trails will be dry during this region and surrounded by lush vegetation and wildflowers. Along the way, the blooming rhododendron trees add a serene aesthetic to the trek experience as they color the landscape red, white, and pink.

Are flights to Lukla safe?

Traveling to the Lukla airport is an exciting adventure. Despite its astounding location in the Himalayan region, it is safe to take a flight from Kathmandu to Lukla. The airport generally carries out 50+ daily flights during the peak season without any incidents or mishaps. However, you might experience delays or cancellations due to unpredictable weather conditions. Regardless of the uncertainties, you will enjoy the most spectacular flight experience ever. The 40-minute flight to Lukla is a breathtaking experience filled with emotions and a sense of adventure. The scenic flight above the majestic Himalayas will be embedded in your memories forever.

What if the flights get canceled?

The weather conditions might get erratic during the Summer and Monsoon seasons. We recommend you travel by vehicle if you plan to travel to the Everest region during this time of the year. On the other hand, we recommend that you have spare days during your stay in Nepal and not book any international flights right after the end of the expedition. Besides, in case of long delays, you can charter a helicopter from Kathmandu to Lukla. This alternative will cost you approximately between USD 2,000 and USD 2,500 per person for a five-seater helicopter. Also, remember that you can claim 100% of the flight booking fee from the airline or the travel agent if the flight gets canceled.

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Raj Kumar Basnet

Raj Kumar Basnet

Hello, Hi & Namaste Everyone !

Raj Kumar Basnet holds more than two decades of travelling experience in different regions of Nepal. He has trekked in both popular and off-the-beaten-path Nepali trekking trails which have allowed him to gain expertise in tourism. With years of field experience under his belt, he is now concentrating on sharing as much of his tourism knowledge as possible. Now, the co-owner of Outfitter Nepal, he hopes that the knowledge he’s gained over the years would deem helpful for the travellers visiting Nepal!

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