Amazing Facts about Lukla airport

  • Sanjay Lamsal
  • Last Updated on Jul 24, 2023

In the Khumbu Pasanglhamu municipality of Solukhumbu district of Nepal lies the small town of Lukla. Between the high hills lies the World’s Most dangerous airport, Lukla Airport, internationally known as Tenzing-Hillary Airport. It is a small domestic airport that flies between Kathmandu - Lukla and vice versa. Lukla is the gateway to Mount Everest. It is starting destination of all Everest trekkings and Expeditions

The airport was constructed under the guidance of Sir Edmund Hillary alongside the local sherpas. Hillary wanted to build the airport on flat lands, but the local farmer refused to give up their lands. So, the airport was built where it is now. So, in 2008, to honour the personalities Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, the airport was titled Tenzing-Hillary Airport in January. 

In 2010, the History channel ranked Lukla airport top spot in its program titled “Most Extreme Airports”. The airport resides at an elevation of 2,846 m above sea level. Moreover, the runway is 527 m long and 30 m wide with an inclination of 11.5 percent. Apart from that, the weather in this region is quite unpredictable. Strong winds, thick clouds, rainfall and low visibility are among the main factors that make this mountain flight challenging to even experienced pilots. Thus, the unpredictable weather and geography of Lukla make Lukla airport the World’s most extreme airport. 

Tenzing-Hillary airport is among the most active domestic airports in Nepal. In favorable weather conditions, there are around 50 flights from Kathmandu - Lukla and vice versa. The overall flight duration is 30 minutes. In addition, flights like Sita, Summit and Tara run on these routes daily. As an alternative option to Tenzing-Hillary Airport, one can charter a helicopter or drive to the nearby village of Phaplu or Jiri and hike to Lukla. 

Table of Contents

Amazing Facts About Lukla Airport

  • To honour the first-ever mountaineers to reach Everest’s summit, the Lukla airport was named Tenzing Hillary airport in January 2008. 
  • The 30 minutes flight to Lukla offers mesmerizing views of greenery hills, farmlands and giant standing snow-capped mountains. 
  • Before the construction of Tenzing Hillary airport, the only way to reach Lukla was through five days hike from Jiri. 
  • This airport plays a vital role in the proper functioning of life as most locals depend on this flight for the transportation of construction, medicine, clothes and food materials to much higher towns and villages. 
  • Most of the sherpas locals were involved in the erection of this airport. 
  • For the Lukla flight, passengers can carry only 15 kg loads. 
  • The runway design is a bit complicated. It is 527 m long with 30 m wide. While landing, the pilot has to pull the break on time to avoid hitting the steep mountain. Similarly, taking off should be accurate; otherwise, the plane might fall from the runway edge to the ground 700 m below. 
  • The weather in this region is unpredictable. The strong winds might blow, and the clouds fill the sky in a blink of an eye.
  • . In such a situation, the plane has to return. 
  • Till 2001, the runway wasn’t paved be 
  • There are around 50 flights for Lukla daily in favourable weather conditions and visibility.
  • Due to extreme geography, there is no radar or air navigation system. So, the pilot must rely on radio communication to land and take off.  
  • To be the main pilot for the Lukla flight, pilots must complete a minimum of 100 short takeoffs and landing (STOL) assignments, one year of STOL experience, and 10 Lukla flight trips under a certified instructor. 
  • There is only a single runway for flight takeoff and landing. 
  • From 1973 to 2019, 11 flight accidents took place in this region. 

Alternatives to Lukla Airport

Due to Lukla airport’s bad reputation, trekkers might think, “Does Lukla Flight worth it?” Well, the flight is not as scary as advertised on TV and in newspapers. Moreover, only experienced pilots can fly in this region. Besides that, taking some risks in life adds an extra adventure and memories which you might feel proud of in future. However, those who don’t want to take risks can drive to Jiri and Phaplu and hike to Lukla for 4 to 5 days. From Lukla, one can start their Everest Base Camp Trek, Everest High Passes Trek, Everest Expedition, and many other popular Everest treks. 

If you have any queries regarding Lukla flight’s risk factors or any popular treks in Nepal, remember Nepal Hiking Adventure Company Pvt. Ltd. We are a team of professionals working in this tourism sector for decades. So, we have the experience and knowledge to answer all your queries and help you plan your vacation. 

Sanjay Lamsal

Sanjay Lamsal

Hello, Namaste from Nepal. I am Sanjay Lamsal and I was born in Nilkantha-11, Dhading, Nepal. I have been in since I finished high schooling at age of 18, I have been working in travel and tourism, since 2015, in the beginning, worked as a trekking porter, trekking Guide, and City Tourist guide. I did all of the major trekking and tour trail all over the Nepal Himalayas. I often remember my past days and think about future. Whenever I remember past events of my life it gives me power to work a hard. I will be working on this in my future. I do challenging with if any problems in the mountains/Himalayas. After long years working with different guests from different countries, I have good experiences about traveling. I completed a Bachelor Degree in Business Studies.

Call us on WhatsApp+977 9851087391OrChat with us