Lukla: The Extreme Airport in The World

Lukla, a small town at the foot of Mount Everest is the gateway of the Everest Region. This beautiful town is found in the north-east of Nepal and sits at 2,640m from sea level. The town is well renowned as the place with many goats and sheep and trading of mountain productions in the lower belt of Nepal, India, and Tibet. Though it’s a small town, the place is buzzing with the happy sound of excited adventure trekkers either getting ready for the trekking/expeditions or finishing off a well-deserved beer after finishing an adventurous Everest Region exploration. The charming Lukla is a small town with the famous Lukla Airport, a strip of hotels, lodges, restaurants, beautiful natural scenery, and amazing locals for the warm hospitality. The hotels and lodges in this region are with good accommodations and ambiance. The shops and department stores in this region are filled with trekking gears, foods, chocolates, and yak products. You can explore the amazing local markets weekly run by local peoples. 

The Lukla area is mainly inhabited by Sherpa peoples, where you can explore the amazing Sherpa culture and traditions. Besides this, you can see many prayer flags, Chortens, Mani walls, Stone walls, and numerous Buddhism correspondence in Luka. Lukla is also the home of the Tenzing-Hillary Airport which is named after Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary, the first people to summit the world’s highest mountain- Mt. Everest. The first two confirmed ever to set foot on top of Mount Everest. And they also had contributed great effort to construct this airport.

Tenzing Hillary Airport (Lukla Airport)

Lukla Airport is perched in between the mountains which makes this airport one of the most dangerous and extreme airports in the world. The famous Lukla airport is the gateway of Everest and with no doubt that, this airport is one of the busiest airports after Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), Kathmandu. This fact might be wondering for you why among the most dangerous airports and still, it’s the biggest airport. This dramatic airport runs more than 60+ flights daily from Kathmandu or Ramechhap during the prime trekking season. The gateway of world-famous trekking trail, Everest Base Camp trek Lukla regions receive high rain, have a high possibility of cloudy weather, high winds on the way, and quick changing visibility that can cause the delaying of flights or closing of airports. The airport is located above 9,000 feet from sea level with an incredibly short runway. The asphalt-paved runway is only 527m long and 30m wide with a gradient of 12% from the north to south. The most challenging part about this airport is definitely the weather factor. Unpredictable weather is the first season behind the numerous cancellation of flights. The reason behind more flights done in the early morning is to get a clear sky and more visibility as compared to afternoon and evening. Meanwhile, the terminal is small, no electric power leaves, no room for minor mistakes, else the landing and take-off become riskier. Moreover, in good weather and clear sky, the flight will be thrilling and enthralling in a dramatic way. The spectacular views of mountains and landscapes are the key attraction of Lukla flight. 

Facts of Lukla Airport 

  • Lukla Airport got its name Tenzing-Hillary Airport in 2008 after Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary, the first person to ascend Mt. Everest successfully. The 35min flight from Kathmandu is the fastest way to reach Lukla for the Everest Region trekking and expeditions. 
  • Sherpa people are well known for their mountaineering skills and were actively involved in the construction of Lukla airport. 
  • It has been said that the runway’s soil of the airport was not resistant and Hillary bought local liquor for the Sherpas and asked them to perform a foot-stomping dance to flatten the land which served as the runway. 
  • The airport was built in 1964 under the leadership of Sir Edmund Hillary. 
  • The airport has a short runway with its length of 527m and 30min wide which causes difficulty in the landing and take-offs. 
  • The flight from Kathmandu to Lukla offers stunning views of mountains, landscapes, and valleys. Indeed, it will be a scenic world-class fly. 
  • There would be at least 60+ flights every day during the prime trekking season which makes this airport one of the busiest domestic airports in Nepal. 
  • The plane to/from Lukla is very small, so there are no fixed seats to sit therefore you are recommended to sit on the left when you are flying to Lukla similarly, on the right when you are flying to Kathmandu. It will reward you with an incredible massive Everest mountain panorama. 
  • At Lukla Airport, there is no Radar System, but there is a radio communication system to take on and take off.
  • You get a 15kh baggage allowance on a flight to Lukla airport. 
  • In 2010, The History Channel broadcast Lukla airport as the world’s most dangerous airport. 
  • The weather of the Lukla changes within a minute. So, cancellation of flights happens often. 
  • Only a Twin Otter size plane can land at Lukla airport. A company like Nepal Airlines, Sita Air, Summit Air, and Tara Air can do the regular commercial flights in this airport. 
  • Due to the difficulty in landing, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal sets high priority where a pilot with 100 short-takeoff and landing (STOL), at least one year experience in Nepal, and has completed 10 flights to Lukla with a certified instructor pilot are allowed to land in this airport. 

Best time to fly in Lukla

Lukla is a heartland of the Everest Khumbu region, where hundreds of trekkers fly in and out every day in peak trekking and expedition season. The weather of the Lukla depends upon the seasons of the year. Normally, Autumn (Sept-Nov) and Spring (March-May) is the best season to travel in the Everest region as well as Luka town. During this season, the sky gets clear almost every day, so that the flights are on time and less risky as well. Fewer clouds, the speed of the wind is less, the airport becomes dry which is relatively safe while landing, super good visibility for the pilots are the major reason why spring and autumn is the best season to travel in Lukla. 

Temperature of Lukla 

Lukla has the continental climate prevailing. Normally warm in the summer and cold during the winter. The average annual temperature of Lukla is 10degree Celsus and there is about 272mm precipitation around the year. December and January are the coldest months in Lukla. The average high temperature is 3. 3°C (37.9°F) and the low average temperature is -16. 3°C (2.7°F). However, the warmest month is June about 14 °C and the Cold month is January the temperature gets 1°C.

Are flights to Lukla safe?

Despite the most dangerous airport in the world, Lukla airport safely carried out about 50+ flights daily during the peak trekking and expedition season. Almost more than half of the trekkers who visited Nepal annually tend to fly into Lukla airport. While the Lukla airport is comparatively more dangerous statically than a typical commercial domestic airport in Nepal, still it’s pretty safe. The aviation officials of Nepal and local airlines are very concerned about the acceptable flight conditions and regulations for aircraft making the journey to Lukla. Because of its landing and takeoff difficulties, weather challenges, and other risk factors anding, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal sets high priority where a pilot with 100 short-takeoff and landing (STOL), at least one year experience in Nepal, and have completed 10 flights to Lukla with a certified instructor pilot are allowed to land in this airport. 

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