Lukla Airport

Have you ever wondered why the aircraft is full of applause when you land at Lukla Airport? It’s due to the happiness of being able to land safely and also a way of appreciating the pilot and crew who operate the flight in the airport, which is considered the most dangerous airport in the world. If you are a travel enthusiast and adventurous soul with trekking on your bucket list, you must have heard about how thrilling it is to fly to the Lukla Airport. Soaring above the sky, witnessing the deep ditch between the hills certainly can be thrilling as well as scary.

Lukla Airport is situated at an elevation of 2846m (9337 ft) in the Solukhumbu district, which lies in the Koshi Province. It is the most prominent Airport in Nepal, as many treks of the Everest Region start from this point. Lukla Airport is also considered as the gateway to the Everest Region. There are difficulties in landing the flight successfully due to the topography of the Himalayan Region, so only highly experienced pilots are allowed to operate the flight.

The passengers often recall the sleepless nights they have before taking the flight; the flying anxiety is real. However, there are daily flights that are operated when the weather is clear. As there are weather fluctuations in the mountain region, there are chances of flights getting delayed and even canceled if the conditions aren’t favorable.

The airports are usually open in the morning and close in the evening. So, most of the flights are during the early morning. It is reported that most of the flights during monsoon season gets cancelled because of the poor visibility. Apart from flights, airports are mostly used to transport materials and essential supplies.

Most of the flights from Lukla start from Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu and take around 35-40 minutes to land. Similarly, taking a flight from Ramechhap (Manthali Airport) is also possible, and it takes about 20-25 minutes to land. Many tourists also drive to Ramechhap and take a flight from Manthali Airport.

Some Interesting Facts About Lukla Airport

Lukla Airport

1. Lukla Airport was built by the efforts of Locals and Sir Edmund Hillary

Lukla Airport was built by the continuous effort made by Sir Edmund Hillary with the help of the locals. It is said that the farmers of Lukla came up with the idea and approached Sir Edmund Hillary about building the airport.

Due to the presence of the airport, the trekking routes are easily accessible. In the Everest Region, there are many trekking routes, and most of the trek commences from Lukla. After the airport was built, it became a starting point for many trekking routes, as trekkers do not need to walk for several days just to reach the start point. Before the construction of the airport, porters had to spend numerous days carrying the trekking gear and equipment from Kathmandu. Another route that trekkers used to take was by driving to Jiri and trekking to Lukla.

It is reported that Edmund Hillary not only brought the land from the locals but also involved them in building the airport. Due to the efforts of the locals, travel in the Everest Region has become much easier. The initiative to build the airport was taken in 1964. The runway of Lukla Airport was paved in 2001.

2. The Airport was named as Tenzing Hillary Airport in honor of Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Edmund Hillary

Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Sir Edmund Hillary were the first to climb Mount Everest. Many climbers were motivated because of their achievements.

As they were the ones who went through numerous challenges to conquer the highest mountain in the world, the airport was named Tenzing Hillary Airport to honor them, their achievements, and their contributions in January 2008.

3. Lukla Airport is considered the most dangerous airport in the world.

Lukla Airport is popularly known as the most dangerous airport in the world. Due to the low pressure on the air at the high altitude, the handling of the aircraft is relatively more challenging.

Another challenge is low visibility because of the weather patterns, which are unpredictable in the Himalayas. It is not uncommon for passengers to get stranded in airports waiting for hours for their departure, only to return back to the tea houses because of a flight getting canceled. Even though the flying duration is short, and it takes only 35-40 minutes to land if you are flying from Kathmandu, the possibility of sudden weather changes and downpours in Lukla causes obstruction in visibility. The fluctuating weather makes it harder for flights to run smoothly without delays and cancellations. The high winds, fog, and poor visibility further add to the challenge.

On top of that, the airport is surrounded by steep hills and mountains, and there is very little possibility of a go-around approach, which is the major risk. The take-offs and arrivals use a single runway. Being surrounded by the mountains, there is no space to make the go-around for the missed approaches, which is daunting to the pilots. Once the flight is commenced, it must land. Due to the sloppy and inclined runway, only Short Takeoff and landing aircraft (STOL) can land in the airport.

4. The sight of aircraft taking off and landing is exhilarating.

When you land at Lukla airport successfully, you can also see the sights of the airplanes departing or landing, which is exhilarating. The structure of the runway and the mountain topography will make you wonder how else it was possible to construct the airport in such a landscape.

The sight of take-offs and landings in one of the most challenging runways is truly remarkable. Even when the passengers are waiting for their turn to get in the planes, you will see many planes taking off and landing, which will keep you engaged during the waiting hours. It is fascinating for many to witness the highly experienced pilots operating the flights smoothly.

5. The beauty of Lukla Airport.

Lukla is a beautiful small town with many tea houses. The houses are mostly decorated with vibrant, colorful flags. The settlements are clearly seen from the airport. The surroundings, with the stunning backdrop of mountains, are mesmerizing to watch.

Lukla is the first high-altitude zone where most of the trekkers land. Landing at the airport safely provides immense joy to travelers. To many of the travelers, it is their first time being in the high-altitude zones. The airport is surrounded by beautiful green hills, and you can get time to get soaked in the beauty of the surroundings. The tranquil environment and fresh air felt as soon as you land in Lukla create a memory that you can cherish for a long period of time. Exploring the nearby areas you can get an opportunity to explore the local lifestyle, culture, and traditions.

Lukla Airport has made it easier for a wide range of travelers to experience the beauty of the mountain region. Many helicopter tours are also operated, and they mainly land in Lukla for refueling. Like one of the most popular helicopter tours, the Everest base Camp Helicopter Tour lands twice at Lukla airport, once at the time of arrival and another when flying back to Kathmandu. The presence of this amazing airport has attracted different types of travelers. Whether they land in Lukla for trekking or whether they are going for a helicopter tour; the Lukla airport has made it all possible.

Popular treks such as Everest Base Camp Trek, Everest Kalapatthar Trek, and many other itineraries involve flying from Kathmandu to Lukla as the first phase of the journey. Then they walk along beautiful popular places of the Everest Region like Phakding, Namche Bazaar, Tengboche, Lobuche, etc. The beauty of Lukla Airport is also enhanced by the efforts of the people who built it and the people who are engaged in its maintenance and regulation, ensuring good service to the passengers.

6. The tiny airplanes and stunning views from the window.

The airplanes flying to Lukla Airport are tiny. Most of them have only one seat on one side. Through the window seat, you can witness the mesmerizing sights of the settlements, verdant hills, deep valleys, rivers, lush forests, and snow-capped mountains. Flying in the tiny aircraft is inherently thrilling by itself.

The tiny aircraft shakes when passengers enter the aircraft, which makes you wonder what awaits you during the flight. You can see the cockpit right in front of your eyes and also the sight of experienced pilots navigating which adds a unique experience to your journey.

The snow-clad mountains and captivating scenery will help you get engaged throughout the flights. Many travelers get nervous as they land because of the bouncy feeling when the aircraft is about to land, and when they finally land successfully, the sounds of clapping are heard with immense happiness in the eyes of passengers as well as the crew.

7. The runway of Lukla Airport is short

The length of the runway of Lukla Airport is 527m (1729 ft), with a gradient of 11.7%, so only light aircraft and helicopters can land there. The advantage of light aircraft in such airports is that they can land at a limited length in comparison to larger aircraft. So, the landing can be tricky, and only well-experienced pilots are allowed to fly the aircraft.

The pilots who have completed at least ten flights to Lukla accompanied by an experienced instructor are allowed to operate the flights. In addition, the pilots must have at least one year experience of flying in Nepal and must have completed 100 Short-Take-Off- and landing missions.

The Local Economy and Life After the Construction of Lukla Airport

The Local Economy and Life After the Construction of Lukla Airport

The construction of the Lukla Airport has increased accessibility to the region and has attracted the attention of many tourists. The airport has also made the transportation of essential supplies easier. The essential supplies have made the lives of locals easier as they have access to goods and essential supplies for daily consumption. Before the construction of the airport, it was very difficult to transport even essential supplies.

The airport is also used for transporting goods and basic necessities. There are lots of tea houses and lodges in the Everest Region. Most of the supplies are brought by the airplanes. Due to this, the teahouses and lodges are able to fulfill the requirements of the travelers, providing them top-notch service even in the remote parts of the region. There are a variety of food options available, especially in main tourist hubs like Namche Bazaar, where almost all the cuisines are served, and many stores are available where the tourists and locals can shop. Almost all the items except the traditional handicrafts made by the locals are transported through the airways.

As it has become more accessible, the number of visitors has significantly increased which has flourished the local economy. The locals have found a way to run their livelihood through tourism-related activities. Many employment opportunities have been created in different sectors, such as the aviation sector, travel agencies, gear and equipment businesses, teahouses, and lodges, etc.

One of the major positive impacts has been the construction of hospitals and medical supplies, which are now more accessible than before. The unavailability of medical care is still a major problem in remote areas, and before the construction of the airport, the situation was even worse. However, due to the airport, medical supplies are now available, and healthcare facilities have improved, but many improvements are still needed in the health sector.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Himalayas is the culture. Many tourists, especially the cultural explorers, can see the rich and unique cultural heritage that has been preserved over the years. Many people are often curious about the lifestyle of the people in the Himalayas, and because of the increased accessibility, they can experience it in person.

The beautiful culture, building structures, and small stone houses along the way are enchanting to the many. The houses and Stupas decorated with beautiful prayer flags showcase the faith and beliefs of the local people. The sight of monks chanting prayers and performing religious ceremonies is often seen in the monasteries, which is spiritually healing. Some of the major festivals celebrated in the Khumbu Region are Mani Rimdu and Dumje. If you visit the Khumbu Region during the festive season, you can observe the festivals along with the locals, which will make you delighted and leave you in awe.

Before the airport was constructed, trekking by walking for several days was the only way to witness the magnificence of the mountain region. However, these days, helicopter tours and short aircraft flights are also possible, giving the opportunity to those people to be in high-altitude zones without numerous days of trekking. Even though helicopter landings can also be made in some popular places like Namche Bazaar, Pheriche, and Hotel Everest View of the Everest Region, Lukla is still where these helicopters land first.

To trek in the Everest Region, you will need permits and pay a certain amount of fees. The revenue generated through permits is used in the regulation of trekking activities and keeping the environment clean along with the construction of the tourism infrastructures. It has helped a lot in the development of the local communities, the maintenance of the trails, and the management of tourism activities.

While it has opened numerous opportunities for trekkers, the number of young people who are reluctant to stay in the villages has increased. The trend is not only in the Himalayan Region but the entire country, which has caused concern among the elders about the long-preserved culture getting lost in the process. However, due to globalization, it is unavoidable. Young people wish to explore different lifestyles, increase their knowledge, and explore many new places. Moreover, there are still people working to preserve the culture and carry the tradition forward.

Similarly, there has been concern over the impact on the environment. There has been a significant rise in tourism in recent years. There have been reports of problems like overcrowding and waste management, which must be addressed and

solved properly. The natural environment of the region is one of the major reasons that tourists visit the place, and preserving it is the only way to sustain in the long run.

Helicopter Tours We Offer from Lukla

lukla to everest helicopter

Lukla to and from Namche Helicopter

Flight Duration

Lukla to Namche: 10 minutes

Namche to Lukla: 10 minutes

Namche Bazaar is a vibrant town and the popular tourist hub of the Khumbu Region. We offer a helicopter tour of Lukla to and from Namche Bazaar, which rewards you with enchanting aerial views of the awe-inspiring vistas of the Everest Region. The flight duration for the round trip is 10 minutes for each segment. During the short flight, you will witness the mesmerizing views of lush hills and mountains like Everest, Lhotse, and Ama Dablam. A chance to be in the beautiful Namche is one of the most fascinating parts of this tour.

Lukla to and from Syangboche Helicopter (Hotel Everest View)

Flight Duration

Lukla to Syangboche: 15 minutes

Syanboche to Lukla: 15 minutes

Syangboche is one of the most popular places in the Everest Region because of its enchanting scenery and the renowned Hotel Everest View. The aerial views of the glaciers and the valleys are phenomenal. Travelers often are fascinated with the idea of being and having breakfast at the Hotel Everest View. The itinerary of the Everest Base Camp Helicopter Tour includes an amazing opportunity to have breakfast in this beautiful hotel with beautiful views of the surroundings.

Upon your arrival in Syangboche, you will be rewarded with panoramic views of the awe-inspiring vistas of the Everest Region. The round trip requires 15 minutes of flying via helicopter.

Lukla to and from Pheriche Helicopter

Flight Duration

Lulka to Pheriche: 15 minutes

Pheriche to Lukla: 15 minutes

Pheriche is situated at an elevation of 4371 meters and is popular for being a stop for trekkers and climbers. Through this 15-minute flight on each segment, you will get a chance to gaze upon the deep valleys, lush hills, and remote villages. You can get glimpses of the rich culture of the Sherpa people. The mesmerizing views of Everest, Pumori, Lhotse, and Nuptse are the major highlights of this incredible tour.

Lukla to and from Kala Patthar Helicopter

Flight Duration

Lukla to Kala Patthar: 20 minutes

Kala Patthar to Lukla: 20 minutes

Kala Patthar is one of the most well-known vistas in the Everest Region. From this iconic viewpoint, you can get the closest view of Mount Everest and stunning views of other peaks such as Pumori, Nuptse, Ama Dablam, and Changtse. Kalapatthar lies at an elevation of 5644.5 meters. Your total time on air will be 20 minutes on each segment of the flight.

Lukla to and from Gorakshep Helicopter

Flight Duration

Lukla to Gorakshep: 20 minutes

Gorakshep to Lukla: 20 minutes

The scenic flight from Lukla to Gorakshep offers enchanting aerial views of the terrains of the Himalayan Region and the beautiful Mount Everest. The birds-eye view of the beautiful landscapes will be a visual treat for your eyes. Gosakshep lies within the protected Sagarmatha National Park and is popular for being the last settlement on the route of Everest Base Camp (EBC). It takes around 20 minutes to reach Gorakshep by helicopter and another 20 minutes to return to Lukla from Gorakshep.

Lukla to and from Kathmandu Helicopter

Flight Duration

Lukla to Kathmandu: 45 minutes

Kathmandu to Lukla: 45 minutes

The helicopter tour from Kathmandu to Lukla is a scenic adventure that offers you mesmerizing aerial views of the beautiful village settlements, rolling green hills, flowing streams, cascading waters, and snow-clad mountains. The thrilling flight starts from Kathmandu Airport and lands in Lukla in about 45 minutes. You can experience stepping into the high-altitude zone by taking this thrilling and scenic flight. In the beautiful Lulka, you can explore the nearby teahouses, traditionally built houses and also observe the lifestyles of the locals. Flying back from Lukla to Kathmandu takes about 45 minutes too.

Lukla to and from Gokyo Helicopter

Flight Duration:

Lukla to Gokyo: 25 minutes

Gokyo to Lukla: 25 minutes

Gokyo is a beautiful village located at an elevation of 4750m. The scenic flight from Lukla rewards you with stunning views of the Everest Region in Nepal. Gokyo is famous for the mesmerizing Gokyo Lake, which also holds great religious significance for Hindus and Buddhists. This 25-minute scenic flight on each round offers beautiful views of the lush hills, villages, and unique landscapes of the Khumbu Region. The aerial views of Mt. Everest, Cho Oyu, Lhotse, and many other mountains will keep you captivated throughout the flight.

Lukla to and from Tengboche Helicopter

Flight Duration:

Lukla to Tengboche: 12 minutes

Tengboche to Lukla: 12 minutes

Tengboche is famous for offering stunning views of snow-clad peaks like Mount Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, Ama Dablam, and many other surrounding mountains. A chance to explore the ancient monasteries and beautiful houses can be spiritual healing for many visitors. It requires 12 minutes of flying in the helicopter for each round of trip. Taking flight from Lukla to Tengboche is one of the quickest ways to witness the magnificent views of the landscapes of the Himalayan Region.

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