Why are Lukla flights diverted to Ramechhap from Kathmandu?

By Glorious Himalaya on March 13, 2023 in Trekking, Travel Tips

So why are Lukla flights diverted from Ramechhap to Kathmandu? This is a question often asked by new foreigners visiting Nepal. They usually plan to board the flight from Kathmandu and land in Lukla before heading for trekking in the Everest region.

However, recently, the government prohibited boarding a flight from Kathmandu to Lukla. Often, passengers are not too bothered traveling to Ramechhap. However, some passengers complain that they must travel a few kilometers extra to reach Ramechhap, whereas previously, they could have quickly boarded the flight from Kathmandu.

These complaints are from those unaware of the reason for diverting Lukla flights to Ramechhap Airport. So, anyone wanting to reach Lukla has to drive or fly to Ramechhap. In this guide, we will explain why Lukla flights have to be diverted from Ramechhap.

Why are Lukla flights diverted to Ramechhap from Kathmandu?

There are a few reasons why Lukla flights are diverted to Ramechhap from Kathmandu.

Single Runway

Tribhuvan International Airport in Nepal has a single runway, meaning only a limited number of planes can fly or land on it. During the peak season in Nepal, many planes plan to fly to Lukla, and a few more return. Adding more international flights looking to take off or land on the same runway takes time, resulting in many cancellations and delays.

Since Lukla’s flight was diverted to Ramechhap, only a few local and international flights use the runway. This has improved the airport’s ability to operate more international flights daily.

Limitations in Kathmandu Airport

Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu is Nepal’s only international Airport. Airport all international flights departing from or arriving in Nepal board at this Airport. International and many domestic flights also take off or land at the Kathmandu Airport.

However, Tribhuvan International Airport has a limited capacity, which creates enormous difficulties for airlines and boarding passengers. Overcrowding can cause flights to be delayed and result in massive danger if not addressed. The congested airport is overcrowded, so passengers must wait a long to board their flight.

Close Proximity to Ramechhap Airport

Kathmandu and Ramechhap Airport are very close to each other. They lie about 130 km east of Nepal’s capital, meaning it takes only 5 hours to reach Ramechhap airport by public vehicle. This extra travel time is worthwhile considering the fewer hassles they will face at Ramechhap airport. The distribution of flights between Kathmandu and Ramechhap makes both airports less congested.

Less congested Ramechhap Airport reduces the chances of flight delays and cancellations. Furthermore, Ramechhap’s altitude is lower than that of Lukla, which makes taking off and landing easier in adverse weather conditions.

Lukla and its one-of-a-kind Airport

Lukla airport, also known as Tenzing Hillary Airport, is a small airstrip in Nepal’s Solukhumbu district, nestled in the heart of the mighty Himalayas. The airport is famous for being one of the world’s most unique and challenging. It sits at 9,334 feet, making it the highest-altitude Airport paved runway.

Additionally, the airport is just 1,729 feet long and built on a steep incline of 12%, making it a nerve-wracking experience for pilots and passengers alike. The runway ends with a sheer drop into a valley, and there is no go-around procedure, meaning that pilots must be highly skilled and precise to land safely.

Despite these challenges, Lukla is the primary gateway to the Everest region, attracting thousands of trekkers and mountaineers each year. Lukla and its airport are a true testament to the awe-inspiring beauty and indomitable ruggedness of the Himalayas, as well as the unwavering resilience of the human spirit in the face of nature’s toughest challenges.

Improvement of Lukla Airport

Lukla Airport, also known as the Tenzing Hillary Airport, is a unique airport in Nepal. Knowing its significance for the trekkers visiting the Khumbu region, the government of Nepal is spending its valuable time and resources improving the Lukla Airport.

Upgrading Safety

The government of Nepal is paying more attention to airplane safety while taking off and landing on the runway strip. New technologies, such as Instrument Landing Systems and Radar Systems, have been installed to ensure safe and efficient landings. These systems assist pilots in navigating the weather and terrain before their landing.

Extension of Runways

Everyone familiar with traveling to the Khumbu region, known as Lukla, knows that the airport has one of the shortest runways among airports in Nepal. However, with recent plans to improve Lukla airport, the Nepal government has extended the runways by 200m. Extended runways give planes a more significant margin for maintaining speed during their take-offs and landings. Furthermore, large planes can also land and take off due to the longer runways.

Expansion of Terminals

Like runways, the Nepal government has also initiated the expansion of terminals in Lukla Airport. Adding a couple of buildings to the previous terminal ensures that many passengers can be accommodated simultaneously. The terminal improvement helps in the maintenance and security of additional baggage and cargo, making the overall atmosphere of the airport fun.

Sustainable Environment

Thanks to government initiatives, the airport is becoming more environmentally sustainable. They have installed solar panels to reduce their use of fossil fuels. Additionally, measures have been implemented to decrease waste and pollution.

Kathmandu-Lukla Flights

The Kathmandu to Lukla flight is renowned for trekking in the Everest region. It is the primary gateway to the area and a popular destination for global trekkers and mountaineers. Before the airport’s construction in Lukla, trekking for days through remote mountain trails was the only way to reach the region. However, with the airport airports, access to the area has become significantly easier and faster, allowing trekkers and mountaineers to save time and energy and focus on the Everest journey’s challenge.

The flight from Kathmandu to Lukla is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for any traveler. It starts at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, where a small plane takes off and rises above the bustling city. The stunning Kathmandu Valley landscape appears as the plane ascends, with the towering Himalayas in the distance. The flight is brief, only about 30 minutes, but offers spectacular views of the majestic mountains and beautiful valleys, making it an unforgettable experience.

The flights typically occur early, between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., depending on weather conditions and other factors. Early morning flights, 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., are scheduled due to the unpredictable weather conditions in the Everest region, which tend to change rapidly during the day.

High winds and cloud cover are common, making it challenging to fly later in the day. Therefore, early morning flights offer the best chance of good weather conditions and visibility, which is crucial for a safe flight into the mountainous region. Additionally, early morning flights allow trekkers and mountaineers to reach Lukla early in the day, giving them plenty of time to acclimate to the altitude and start their trek towards Everest Base Camp or other regional destinations.

About Ramechhap Airport

Ramechhap Airport, situated in the Ramechhap district of Nepal, is a viable alternative to Kathmandu’s main airport airports to Lukla. On April 1, 2019, Tara Air initiated the first Lukla flight from Ramechhap Airport, and several other airlines have followed suit since then.

As a result, the Airport has become popular as an alternative for travelers heading to the Everest region, and its facilities have been upgraded to meet the increasing demand. With its reliable services and convenient location, Ramechhap Airport has emerged as a go-to option for trekkers and mountaineers seeking to explore the breathtaking landscapes of the Everest region.

How do I reach Ramechhap from Kathmandu for Lukla Flights?

There are several ways to reach Ramechhap for Lukla flights. One way is to hire a private vehicle or book a taxi from Kathmandu, which takes approximately 4-5 hours, depending on traffic. Another option is to take a public bus, which is more economical but can take longer due to multiple stops. For a quicker and more convenient option, travelers can also take a direct flight from Kathmandu to Ramechhap, which only takes 15-20 minutes.

Note: Ramechhap to Lukla flights generally occur in the morning, usually between 6:30 AM and 10:30 AM, depending on the airline and weather conditions. You may have to take a night bus at 6:30 am.

Present Condition of the Flights to Lukla

The present conditions of flights to Lukla vary depending on the season. During the peak tourist season, which typically occurs between September to November and March to May, Lukla flights are diverted to Ramechhap Airport.

However, during the off-season, typically between December to February and June to August, flights from Kathmandu to Lukla are available as usual. During this time, trekkers and mountaineers have a better chance of getting flights directly to Lukla without the need for diversion.

It is worth noting that despite the rerouting of Lukla flights to Ramechhap, the journey to Lukla remains one of the world’s most sought-after adventures. The panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain range, including Mount Everest, are breathtaking, and the trekking experience is unforgettable.

However, planning and booking flights in advance, especially during peak tourist season, is crucial to ensure a comfortable journey. Additionally, keeping an eye on the weather conditions and being prepared for sudden changes is essential in making the most of this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Conclusion

Hence, it is essential to know why Lukla flights are being diverted from Kathmandu to Ramechhap. The main reason is not to pressurize the Kathmandu airports, which also host international flights. Delegating the space of Ramechaap airport for the Lukla flight will provide a hassle-free airport experience in both airports. Furthermore, there are fewer chances of canceled flights and flight delays.

It is also important to emphasize that flights to Ramechhap Airport are only diverted during the peak trekking season. During the Autumn and Spring seasons, the demand for Lukla airports increases considerably, consequently congesting the Kathmandu airport. In other seasons, like winter and monsoon, if you want to go to Lukla, you can easily board flights from Kathmandu airport.

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