Lukla Airport has a reputation for being the world’s most dangerous airport. The reasons are many, and one just can’t name only a few. The deaths that have taken place in this airport are scary. Lukla airport is one that many trekkers and mountaineers visit to get to the world’s tallest mountain Mount Everest. But, this is not always in favor of the travelers the airport is in. It mostly has to do with the rural nature of where the airport is located. Lukla Airport has to be feared if anything. And though one has to take a route from Kathmandu to Lukla to make the journey towards Everest, half an hour’s distance from an airplane feels like going to a whole new world.
While the airport in Kathmandu is safe and has always been warm toward its visitors, so is not the case for Lukla Airport. Lukla is located in the Himalayan parts of Nepal, which is also why the risk of dying or having an accident in the airport itself has such big probability. Furthermore, the Lukla airport really serves as a danger to the trekkers, sadly, before they even reach the base camp.
Tune in until the end of this article to learn more about the world’s most dangerous and deadly airport, the Lukla Airport.
The most dangerous airport in the world, Lukla airport
Lukla Airport is the world’s most dangerous airport for many reasons. It is situated in Lukla, which is quite near to Mount Everest. The airport invites many trekkers and mountaineers throughout the year. But at the cost of risks. Though expeditions and travels in the airport have been taking place for several years, the rural nature and the lack of management are why the airport is as deadly.
There have been several deaths in the airport itself. And travelers and trekkers always have to consider risk when they are at Lukla airport. All in all, more than 300 people died in Lukla airport. And this number is very high for a place that is supposed to be a safe place of landing for mountaineers, trekkers, and travelers who already have to face the risk of passing away at Mount Everest.
Dangers of Lukla Airport
There are surely many airports that have risks. Some such airports are in different parts of the world with certain dangers. But, what makes Lukla airport all the worse is the fact that Lukla airport has all the possible dangers combined that the other airports in the world partially have. Some of these dangers are bad wind conditions and low air pressure. It is quite obvious that when an airplane cannot keep itself intact during bad weather, it suffers from some sort of accident. The weather condition in Lukla airport is very bad, and the wind is indecisive. The pilots very often lose control in these conditions and meet with accidents. Likewise, due to low air pressure, the possibility of suffocating or passing away in this airport is very high.
Similarly, the mountainous and extreme rural condition of Lukla only strengthens the possibility of dangers. Another major reason why Lukla Airport is so dangerous is the low visibility factor. Well, of course, in a place that is not as trustworthy for life can blur one’s vision. Due to a lot of reasons, pilots tend to face low visibility in the airplane while flying to the Lukla airport. The evenings are cloudier than ever, which is also a reason why a lot of travelers travel during the morning. Additionally, people tend to cancel flights to Lukla very often.
Who built the Lukla airport?
While many people assume that the Lukla airport was built by the Nepal government, this is entirely false. Mountaineer and the first person to ever reach Mount Everest, Sir Edmund Hilary the one who built the Lukla airport. The local Sherpas were not willing to give away their lands. Hilary finally convinced these Sherpas to sell the lands at $2,650 back in time. Hence, it was Sir Edmund Hilary who built the Lukla airport.
It was a necessity for mountaineers at that time. However, this really did not bring about any improvements in the betterment of the airport because the government of Nepal was not one to build the airport and has never quite been there to improve the conditions at the airport either. And, since the airport has been built on a small piece of land in the Himalayas, it does not serve as a trustworthy place for planes either.
A story about the Lukla airport has been revolving through decades. It is said that Sir Edmund Hilary, after checking the soil durability of the land in Lukla, wanted to better the conditions. And he looked forward to doing so by giving the local Sherpas alcohol and asking them to dance so that the soil conditions change to an extent. However, it has not yet been proven if the story is actually true. Likewise, the runway was finally paved in 2001.
Can we go to Lukla without flying?
While it is common for travelers to seek a route that does not involve flying to Lukla and arriving at the Lukla airport, taking a flight is the most common and convenient way to reach Lukla. If you want to make an expedition to Mount Everest, you might also want to consider going to Kathmandu airport to catch your flight to Lukla. And, there is almost no avoiding the Lukla airport when you’re at it.
One of the major reasons why you should opt to fly to the Lukla airport is the other routes and means of traveling will cost you a lot more time and effort. And while the dangers are exceedingly terrible and terrifying at Lukla airport, you get almost a direct pass towards the Mount Everest base camp from the airport.
What is Lukla Airport called?
The Lukla airport is also famous as Tenzing Hilary Airport (LUA). The name stands for the first people who succeeded in climbing the mountain for the very first time, Sir Edmund Hilary, and his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay Sherpa. Moreover, Sir Edmund Hilary was the one to establish an airport for the convenience of travelers in Lukla. His generous contribution has by far been very fair for mountaineers who have reached Lukla with convenience through the airport. But then again, due to the lack of developments in the area, the risks of traveling through the Tenzing Hilary airport are just as many.
This airport was called Lukla airport for the longest time. But, it was later named Tenzing Hilary Airport to pay tribute to the builder, Hilary, as well the first expeditors of the world’s tallest peak, Hilary and Sherpa.
Which is the most dangerous airport in Nepal?
The most dangerous airport in Nepal is the Lukla airport otherwise known as Tenzing HIlary Airport (LUA). It is located in the eastern Himalayan parts of Nepal. This airport has been given the label of one of the top among the top ten most dangerous airports in the whole world. Moreover, it has also been called “Runway on the Roof of the World.”
Accidents at Lukla Airport
There has been a recorded number of over 300 deaths in the Lukla airport. It is very uncommon for people to die in an airport, but then again, many airports in the world, including this one, hold the record of being one of the most dangerous for all the right reasons. Accidents in the Lukla airport have majorly been because of the bad weather conditions and lack of proper management.
Among many accidents that have taken place in Lukla airport, the most recent one is the crash of Yeti Airlines Flight 103 in the year 2008. There is footage of airplane accidents that have been taking place in Lukla airport. In the 2008 crash, the pilot had a foggy vision due to the clouded view outside the airplane. He, nevertheless, tried to make a visual landing. Sadly, all the passengers and three crew members died in this accident. It was the pilot who only made out of the plane alive.
After several such accidents, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal has set very strict rules for pilots who are going to Lukla. The restrictions in this strictly set rules and laws aim toward the safety of passengers traveling to Lukla. Very often, the pilot’s expertise has come into question regarding the safety of the passengers. But even those with a very good profile of flying airplanes have been the victim of accidents at Lukla.
Anyone who flies to Lukla has to have at least flown to the location 10 times under expert supervision. And the pilot should be certified with adequate experience in flying to even the most rural parts of Nepal. Pilots have to undergo screening before they are sent to Lukla. Hence, not every pilot can fly a plane to the Lukla airport without fulfilling these strict bars.
Facilities of Lukla Airport
The Lukla airport lies at a height of 9,334 ft (2,845 m). The Lukla airport has been facilitating the transport of building supplies and other goods to Lukla as there is no other means of carrying them there. The airport closes in the evening almost every time due to the bad weather conditions. And it reopens in the mornings again. Visual flight rules, or VFR, have resulted in the airport’s closure because of safety concerns. And, there is almost always no notice paid before closing the airport to seek safety.
50% of the flights to Lukla are canceled 50% of the time during the monsoon season. There are several reasons why Lukla airport is not the most reliable place to go during bad weather or season. And the Nepal government has been very cautious after several accidents took place in the airport. The pilots have to follow very strict rules when it comes to flying to Lukla. Not everyone has the ability nor the experience to fly to a dangerous location like this one.
Hence, one has to have flown at least ten flights under strict expert supervision, a year of good experience in flying around Nepal, and should at least pass a few more such tests and trials to fly to Lukla. This is due to safety concerns. And flight cancellations are just as common not only during monsoon but whenever the weather conditions around the location do not seem safe. These standards are all set by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal.
Why is Lukla Airport famous?
Lukla airport is famous for so many reasons, some of them being;
- It was built by Sir Edmund Hilary, who was the first person to climb Mount Everest.
- It has been labeled as the most dangerous airport in the whole world.
- It is a gateway to the world’s tallest mountain, Mount Everest.
- There have been more than 300 deaths in this airport.
- There have always been many flights to Lukla from Kathmandu on good and bright days.
- Many mountaineers have good knowledge about this airport as they have or aim to climb Mount Everest at some point in their lives.
How long is the flight from Kathmandu to Lukla?
The flight from Kathmandu to Lukla is only 30 minutes. However, given some exceptional situations, especially the weather condition, it takes you as quick as 25 minutes or as much as 45 minutes.
Although the distance from a flight from Kathmandu to Lukla is not as far, it is almost impossible for people not to feel the vast difference between the Lukla airport and the Kathmandu airport. While Kathmandu airport is very developed and greatly facilitates passengers, Lukla airport is quite the opposite.
How long is the runway at Lukla Airport?
The runway at Lukla airport is 527m (1,729ft) long and 20m (65ft) wide. The runway is on a slope from north to south. Also, the runway is very narrow as residents are around the area. And a small road only makes up for the runway for the Lukla airport. The mountainside airport is also located at 2,800m (9,186ft).
Is it risky to fly to Lukla?
Yes, flying to Lukla is very risky for many reasons. You have to be aware of all the possible dangers of flying to Lukla before you decide to do so. The topography, climate, place, airport size, and traffic volume all serve the added risks of flying to Lukla. You might get a sense of rush in your body when you are flying to Lukla!
For the passengers looking to travel to Lukla without having to take a flight, keep in mind that it is almost impossible if you want to reach out directly and quickly. Other routes require you to pass Phaplu, Jiri, and Salleri. And these alternative routes will take you a very long and tiring time.
Which planes can land at Lukla airport?
It is not a lesser-known fact that Lukla airport serves the most dangerous experience for anyone in an aircraft. And the narrow runway as well as the extreme conditions of the weather, and many other factors above make Lukla Airport a nightmare for both pilots and passengers. Therefore, to safely reach Lukla, one should only go for smaller aircraft as it is the only safe option for them. Moreover, Lukla Airport has only received smaller aircraft like helicopters and STOL aircraft (STOL: Short Take-Off and Landing).
Another thing to keep in mind would be the fact that, in these aircraft, you just can’t expect to have more than only a few passengers. Therefore, no aircraft, at the present time, can have more than a small number of passengers landing in a single aircraft at Lukla airport.
Why were flights from Kathmandu to Lukla stopped?
There had been an exceeding increment in the number of people booking flights from Kathmandu to Lukla, increasing the traffic at Tribhuwan International Airport. Hence, passengers had to go to Ramechhap instead of directly taking a flight from Kathmandu. It had almost been impossible to be flexible towards the flights from Kathmandu, but the problem had been solved with Ramechhap airport coming to action.
How much does Kathmandu to Lukla cost?
The amount taken to fly from Kathmandu to Lukla mostly depends on the availability of tickets and the time you are making the booking. But the price remains with NRS. 11601, to NRS. 16744.
When a make a round trip, though, airfares are fairly cheaper.