Top 10 Unique Facts about Tenzing-Hillary Airport

The 527 m short runway of the Lukla Tenzing-Hillary Airport at Khumbu region, Nepal

The flight to Lukla from Kathmandu is only 35 minutes long but it is one of the toughest and breath-taking flights ever. It’s fair to say you must be at your best to enjoy the Lukla flight. Famously known as Tenzing-Hillary Airport there is much more to appreciate about it.

Without a doubt, some major facts create interest among everybody. More than being dangerous, Tenzing-Hilary Airport is one of the most scenic airports to ever exist. Stick with us as we dissect everything about Tenzing-Hilary Airport.

Unique History of  Lukla Tenzing-Hilary Airport

Before jumping right into the facts about Tenzing-Hilary Airport, it is critical to understand the airport’s history. It was in 2008 when Lukla Airport got its name as Tenzing-Hilary Airport.

The name was provided to honor Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Sir Edmund Hilary the first climbers of Mount Everest in 1953. Tenzing-Hilary Airport came into existence only in September 1971.

Even though this is a very small airport, this particular airstrip remains busy all around the year. Mainly during the peak season, it is impossible to find a rest time at the airport. The short runway and the hills around it make this one of the most dangerous airports in the world.

As the Tenzing-Hilary airport came into existence, it became one of the major places in the world. Often known as the gateway to the Khumbu region, Tenzing-Hilary Airport became the most important landmark for the Everest Region Trek.

What makes Lukla Tenzing-Hilary Airport so Dangerous?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions when we talk about Lukla Airport. A lot of people know that Lukla Airport is a dangerous airport but don’t know the exact reason for it.

In general, the runways for the international airport must be 5000 ft long but with Tenzing-Hilary Airport it is only 1729 ft which makes it tough to take the initial lift. Lukla airport exists in a narrow valley with a short runway so taking off and landing is tough.

Along with this another reason for Lukla Airport to be tough is the altitude of the airport. It lies at an altitude of  2,845 m/9337 feet. As the altitude increases the air gets thinner and it’s very tough to get the actual lift the wings of the aircraft require.

The last but major reason for Lukla Airport to be dangerous is the weather. As the airport lies at a higher altitude, it is foggy, and cold, and snows during the winter season. This makes the landing and take-off very hard. With hills being on one side, the chances of the crash just increase.

Importance of Lukla Airport for EBC Trek

One of the major reasons why the Everest Base Camp Trek received some major impetus was due to the construction of Lukla (Tenzing-Hilary) airport. Before building this airport, life was tough in this region.

Following the construction of this airport, the evacuation for the tougher situation has been easier. With the help of emergency evacuation, the cases of death have decreased by 50%. With the airport being built the trekking to EBC has been accessible to everyone.

With the help of this airport, there have been medical supplies and health personnel easily available all the time. Meanwhile, the safety of the EBC trek has also been taken massive care of which was a doubt before the airport existed.

Top 10 Unique Facts About Lukla Tenzing-Hilary Airport

If you have come this far, you would be interested to learn about the Top 10 unique facts about Tenzing-Hillary Airport. There are plenty of them to talk to and enjoy.

    1. Located at an Altitude of 2,846 m/9337 Feet

This is one of the most unique points when we talk about Tenzing-Hilary Airport. As the airport lies at such a higher altitude there is a major chance to feel altitude sickness during the flight.

With the runway being so small, there is a major chance of some mishaps during the landing and take-off of the flight. This brings doubt into the minds of the trekkers before going for the Lukla flight.

   2. Between the Mountains

As Lukla is the gateway to Everest you will be covered by some of the beautiful mountains during the flight. When you stand at the airport, you have an opportunity to embrace mountains that go beyond 6000m.

As you complete the hard flight to Lukla, mountains like Mt. Thamserku (6608m), and Mt Kusum Kanguru (6667m) along with the highest mountain in the world will be right there to welcome you. During the autumn and winter seasons, these mountains feel heavenly.

3. The Runway is 500m Long

Another unique aspect of Tenzing-Hilary Airport is the runway for the actual airport. It is only 500m long which ends up at a challenging mountain. This tends to throw in the risk factor for new pilots.

As the ascent is very sharp, you need to be extra careful when you are willing to make the landing. There is a strong turn to land safely at this airport. During the bad weather, it gets even harder to land.

4. Limited Hotels Available at the Airport

In the past, there were no hotels at the airport. Tourists will have to walk their way through to the closest place to find the perfect spot for the overnight stay. With the popularity of the Everest Base Camp or Gokyo Valley Trek things have changed drastically.

In recent times, there have been some good and better facility-suited hotels available around the airport. You will also find tea houses and less qualified hotels but it depends on you which you want to choose.

As the demands have increased, hotels have been added to provide better facilities to all interested domestic and international tourists.

5. Flight Service Only Between 6:00 AM- 3:00 PM

One of the rarest airports where you will only find a 9-hour window for a flight is Tenzing-Hilary Airport. As the airport is covered with mountains, the visibility for the flight beyond 3 pm is almost impossible.

You will have to book your flight in this 9-hour time frame or the flight gets pushed. Being at a higher altitude the weather can change frequently so night flights are impossible to operate. There are rumors that the last flight goes out at 6:00 pm. Well, that isn’t true.

6. Several Accidents Have Occurred at this Airport

Yes, there have been some major accidents over the air at Tenzing-Hilary Airport. From death to major injuries and helicopter crashes the news isn’t good. Until 2023 there have been 11 flight accidents.

More than 40 people lost their lives during the accident at Tenzing-Hilary airport. The worst was in 2008 with 18 people died due to the frequent weather changes. Therefore it is important to follow the safety protocols if you are planning a trip.

7. Unpredictable Weather and Dangerous Approach

The weather at Lukla airport is massively unpredictable. It can go as high as 35 degrees Celsius but can also drop down to -20 degrees Celsius which can make prediction very tough. Not only that you will also find the presence of strong winds which cancels the flights.

Fog, mist, and strong winds make this flight even more risky and unreliable. With a runway of only 500m, you have very little time to adjust. In case you perform some mistakes during the flight things can go bad.

Therefore always use your knowledge and skill when planning ascent or descent at Lukla Airport. Over the years there have been some fatal accidents at this airport.

8. Gateway to Mount Everest

There is entry to the highest mountain in the world Mount Everest (8848.86m) is right through, Tenzing-Hilary Airport. After taking the breathtaking flight to Lukla, you will understand the beauty of Everest as a whole.

It doesn’t matter how many times you have taken the flight to Lukla, it will get you speechless all the time. Leading up to Lukla airport you have a chance to either trek Gokyo Valley or do EBC.

9. Only One Runway to Get In or Out

As we know Lukla only has only runway of 500m, and there is hardly any other way to get out of the place. If you are stuck at Lukla you are stuck as Tenzing Hilary airport isn’t operating in its full tilt.

The runway ends right into the mountains so you should have a braveheart along with proper mindset if you are thinking about Lukla airport.

10. Carriage (Baggage) Limit

The last yet enticing fact about Lukla Airport revolves around the carriage limit at the airport. As we know there are small flights to Lukla, and you can’t carry luggage of more than 15 kg.

As the flights that fly are small anyone interested in taking luggage more than 15 kg must pay a heavy amount. Besides the normal fare, it is important to pay a high amount if you wish to take more items with you.

We would like to suggest every traveler limit their luggage as they might have to carry an extra load during the tour or trek.