Flying to Lukla after October 2022 – What you need to Know.
Starting October 2022, all flights to and from Lukla will be conducted from Manthali airport in Ramechhap district – not Kathmandu. This airport is 87 miles (140 Kilometers) from Kathmandu. The drive to/from Manthali is around 5-6 hours. The flight duration from Manthali airport to Lukla is only 12-15 minutes; it is 35 minutes from Kathmandu to Lukla.
Why this change?:
The airport in Kathmandu handles both domestic and international flights. During the main tourist months the Kathmandu airport can be overwhelmed with flights arriving/leaving Kathmandu causing long delays. This means planes arriving in Kathmandu may have to “hold” in the air for up to an hour or longer at times before they can land. And similarly planes departing Kathmandu may have to wait at the taxiway (even after boarding) for hours before they can take off. To alleviate the pressure on the Kathmandu airport, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal has decided to operate all flights to/from Lukla from the Manthali airport.
It is not certain whether this will only apply in the busy tourist months (October – December and March – May) or even in the low season.
What are your options:
- The best option would be to fly directly from Kathmandu to Lukla and back to Kathmandu on a helicopter. The surcharge is US$ 500 per person. Paying this surcharge will get you a seat in a helicopter which will be shared with others. Also, you may opt to fly Kathmandu to Lukla (one-way only) on a helicopter, the surcharge is US$ 250 per person. On the return, you would fly Lukla to Manthali in the morning and then drive back to Kathmandu the same day.
- The second option would be drive to Manthali a day before your flight to Lukla. There are some basic accommodations in Manthali. There are better accommodations at Mulkot (20 minutes away) but there will be additional charges for this option.
- The third option would be to depart Kathmandu early morning (1:00 am) on the day of your flight to Lukla.