Lukla Nepal the most dangerous airport in the world

Lukla is a small village in the Everest region and the gateway to Everest. It is located towards the northeast of Nepal at 2,640m from sea level. Many decades ago Lukla was popular as the trading center for Himalayan productions that goes to the lower of Nepal, India and Tibet. Despite being a small mountain town, the place will be buzzing with trekkers from around the world during the high trek season in Nepal. Lukla has a strip of hotels, lodges, restaurants, appealing natural scenery, and locals with warm hospitality. You can find trekking gears, foods, chocolates, and yak products in the small shops here. There’s also a weekly market run by locals. 

Another thing popular about Lukla is its airport also known as ‘​Tenzing-Hillary Airport’. The airport is considered one of the dangerous airports in the world which is perched in between the mountains. In fact, the most dangerous airport in the world is Lukla airport in Nepal. To enter the Everest region or for Everest Base Camp Trek, one must fly into Lukla airport from Kathmandu, so no wonder it is the busiest airport after Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), Kathmandu during high season. This impressive airport runs more than 60+ flights daily from Kathmandu or Ramechhap during the prime trekking season. Due to it’s location, Lukla airport’s weather is constantly changing receiving high rain, have a high possibility of cloudy weather, high winds on the way, and quick changing visibility. This ultimately can cause the delaying of flights or closing of the airport. Lukla airport height is 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. But the most challenging factor about the Lukla airport is the weather factor. Numerous flights from Kathmandu got delayed or canceled due to the unpredictable weather. Thus, all flights to Lukla are done early in the morning every day for more visibility as compared to afternoon and evening. So, there has to be no room for minor mistakes during taking off and landing at Lukla airport otherwise it will be risky. However if the weather condition is good and with clear skies, flights to Lukla are very beautiful with spectacular mountain views and amazing landscapes down below. One must fly to Lukla for any trek into the Everest region.

Facts of Lukla Airport 

  • Lukla Airport is named after Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary, the first person to successfully summit Mt. Everest. From Kathmandu to Lukla flight is 35 minutes and is the fastest way to reach Lukla for trekking or expeditions to the Everest region.  
  • Sherpa community was actively involved in the construction of Lukla airport. Sherpa is the local inhabitants of Everest and popular for their mountaineering skills
  • It’s said the runway’s soil of the airport was not resistant and Sir Edmund 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 came into being in 1964 under the leadership of Sir Edmund Hillary. 
  • Lukla airport has a short runway with its length of 527m and 30min wide which causes difficulty in the landing and take-offs. 
  • Flying from Kathmandu to Lukla offers splendid Himalayan views, beautiful landscapes down below with small valleys, towns, farmlands etc. 
  • In high trek season, Lukla airport receives at least 60+ flights every day making it 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. 
  • There is no Radar System in Lukla Airport but a radio communication system for take on and take off.
  • Baggage allowance on a flight to Lukla is 15 kgs per person since only small aircraft operate in this region. 
  • In 2010, The History Channel broadcast Lukla airport as the world’s most dangerous airport. 
  • The weather of the Lukla is very unpredictable changing within a minute. So, cancellation or delay of flights happens more often. 
  • Only a Twin Otter size plane can land at Lukla airport. Domestic airlines of Nepal flying to Lukla are Nepal Airlines, Sita Air, Summit Air, and Tara Air whom provide 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 to Lukla
Lukla airport receives hundreds of flights in and out every day in peak trekking and expedition season. Lukla’s weather depends upon the seasons of the year. Normally, the best season to fly to Lukla is Autumn (Sept-Nov) and Spring (March-May). Skies are clearer almost every day during these seasons with the flights are on time and less risky as well. With fewer clouds and less speed of wind, the airport becomes dry which is relatively safe while landing with super good visibility for the pilots. This is the major reason why spring and autumn is the best season to fly to Lukla. 

Temperature in Lukla
Lukla has the continental climate prevailing i.e. normally warm in the summer and cold during the winter. The average annual temperature of Lukla is 10degree Celsus with about 272mm precipitation around the year. The coldest months in Lukla are December and January. The average high temperature is 3. 3°C (37.9°F) with the low average temperature being -16. 3°C (2.7°F). The warmest month is June with about 14 °C and the Cold month is January with the temperature dropping down to 1°C.

Is flying to Lukla safe?
Despite being the most dangerous airport in the world, Lukla airport safely receives out about 50+ flights daily during the high season. Almost more than half of the trekkers who plan for a trek into the Everest region annually tend to fly to Lukla airport. While the Lukla airport is comparatively more dangerous still it’s pretty safe. The aviation officials of Nepal and local airlines are very concerned about flights to Lukla, and immediately cancels or delays the flights monitoring the Lukla weather condition. The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal has set a high priority for pilots flying to Lukla 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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