Ramechhap to Lukla Flights: How Does This Affect Your Travel Experience?
All STOL flights to and from Lukla will operate from Ramechhap Airport during peak season, with Ramechhap as the base for all flights to Lukla. This has been changed on Lukla flight basis to ensure smooth flight operations without any air traffic and delays.
The airport is situated on the bank of the Tama Koshi River in Manthali, Ramechhap District and is the closest airport of the eastern region to connect Lukla and Kathmandu.
Ramechhap Airport, 130 km from Kathmandu, is a four hours drive from Kathmandu. The airport first became operational in October 1979. Situated at an elevation of 474 meters/1560ft, the airport has a 518-metre runway of an asphalt-concrete that is 520 by 20 meters and is oriented to 030 and 210 degrees
A base for Lukla STOL flights
During the peak season (October-November) and (April-May) there are an average of 35 daily flights to Lukla. On its single runway, Kathmandu Airport can accommodate more than 400 flights (domestic and international flights) daily. But in case of air traffic and bad weather at Kathmandu Airport, small aircraft like Twin Otters/Dorniers/LET L140 flying to Lukla are forced to hover next to big international flights waiting to land.
As a result, a 35-minute Kathmandu flight from Lukla can last 1.5 hours, with mid-morning tailwinds reducing the number of Lukla ferries before the airfield closes. It was proposed to use Ramechhap Airport for Lukla flights to reduce this congestion and make Lukla flights smooth without delay.
Initially, Ramechhap Airport was used as an alternative airport for flights to Lukla while the runway maintenance work of Kathmandu Airport was going on. In the spring of 2019, Kathmandu Airport was closed for 10 hours every day for runway maintenance and at that time all flights from Ramechhap Airport to Lukla were rerouted.
Kathmandu Airport is closed for some time for runway maintenance and all Lukla flights are operated from Ramechhap Airport.
There was no plan to use Ramechhap Airport for Lukla flights for a long time, but after the spring of 2019, Lukla flights started operating smoothly from this new base, and the traffic jam at Kathmandu Airport was also reduced. Since then the use of Ramechhap has been proposed for the peak season.
2023 Lukla Flight Status
At present, three airlines namely Tara Air, Summit Air and Sita Air are flying to Lukla and each airline has only two aircraft for Lukla flight.
Now during the peak season Ramechhap Airport will serve as the base for all STOL flights to Lukla. All flights to and from Lukla will operate from Ramechhap Airport during peak season.
Tentative dates for operation of Ramechhap Airport for Lukla flights:
Spring: March 25 to May 20
Fall: September 20 to November 20
Ramechhap to Lukla Flight Experience
Although it is difficult to travel to Ramechhap and the airport does not even have basic facilities, Ramechhap airport is a more reliable option for flying to Lukla. Initially, the flight from Ramechhap to Lukla takes only 14 minutes as opposed to 35 minutes from Kathmandu. This means that if the weather is good, more flights will take off early and bring more visitors to Lukla. Even if the weather is fine in Lukla, flights from Kathmandu are frequently delayed due to air traffic before take-off, so travelers miss the opportunity to reach Lukla.
The flight time from Ramechhap Airport to Lukla Airport is only 14 minutes. Compared to the 35-minute flight from Kathmandu, Ramechhap Airport offers a much shorter flight time to Lukla. Shorter flight times mean more flights and thus less chance of cancellations and delays.
Chances of flight cancellation and delays at Ramechhap airport
In the case of Ramechhap airport, the possibility of flight cancellation is very low. As Ramechhap Airport is the only base for Lukla flights, there is less chance of delay due to air traffic. Flights will operate smoothly without air traffic and delays unless weather conditions disrupt flight operations. Even when flying from Ramechhap, there is a possibility of flight cancellation and delay due to weather, but in the case of Ramechhap, if the weather improves for some time, the flights will be operated. Because it will take only 14 minutes to reach Lukla from Ramechhap.
How to get to Ramechhap
It takes a four-hour drive to reach Ramechhap Airport from Kathmandu. Depending on your flight time you should arrive at Ramechhap Airport 1 hour before the check-in process. Ramechhap Airport is 130 km east of Kathmandu. As the road is a two-lane highway, it takes 4 hours to reach Kathmandu. Road conditions are good and cars/vans/buses can easily reach the airport.
Hotel in Ramechhap
Tourists could not come to Ramechhap until all the flights from here to Lukla were opened. There are hotels near the airport but keep your expectations low as the hotels are very basic with minimal facilities and services. These are mostly guesthouses that were built to cater to local tourists. Now, with the increase in the number of tourists coming to Ramechhap to take the Lukla flight, new hotels are being built in Ramechhap.
In case of flight cancellation at Ramechhap Airport?
Himalayan weather can change rapidly, Lukla flights may be delayed by a few hours and even canceled for the day. This may change our itinerary.
Regarding Ramechhap Airport, chances of flight cancellations and delays are very less compared to Kathmandu Airport. In case of flight cancellation at Ramechhap Airport, we will either rebook your flight for the next day or try to get you on a chartered helicopter. Helicopters require less visibility than fixed-wing aircraft and can fly even when fixed-wing aircraft are canceled for the day. The exact cost of a helicopter flight depends on the number of people sharing the flight and obviously the demand. Each helicopter can carry up to 5 passengers and can cost anywhere from USD 350 to USD 500 per person. The cost for the helicopter flight will be extra and we will credit the full amount of your airfare in the event of cancellation.
Helicopter flight to and from Lukla
As the Ramechhap airport is only used for fixed wing aircraft, this new flight change will not affect helicopter flights. If you are flying from Lukla by helicopter then you don’t have to worry about this. There will be a helicopter flight from Kathmandu airport.
Is transfer to Ramechhap Airport included?
Yes, we will provide you with private transportation from Ramechhap Airport at no extra charge. Depending on the size of your group, we will provide a private transfer.
What is the condition of roads and vehicles?
It is a major two-lane highway connecting the Kathmandu Valley and eastern parts of Nepal. The drive takes around 4 hours and the road conditions are very good as almost all sections of the road are pitched and paved.
What time will you pick me up from the hotel in Kathmandu?
Upon your arrival in Kathmandu, your guide will inform you about the flight time and pickup time from your hotel in Kathmandu. You will probably leave the hotel at 2/3 am but the exact time will be given in the briefing. Your guide will pick you up from your hotel in Kathmandu
Can I fly from Kathmandu instead of Ramechhap Airport?
If you don’t want to travel 4 hours from Ramechhap Airport to Lukla, you can take a helicopter from Kathmandu Airport. The exact cost of a helicopter flight depends on the number of people sharing the flight and obviously the demand. Each helicopter can carry up to 5 passengers and costs between USD 350 to USD 500 per person. The cost for the helicopter flight will be extra and we will credit the full amount of your airfare.