What is happening at Tribhuvan International Airport?
From 1st April 2019, Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA - Kathmandu Airport) will remain closed from 10 pm to 8 am every day for its runway maintenance. This will be the biggest maintenance project for the sole international airport of Nepal since its construction in 1975. This action is going to affect all the international and domestic flights flying in and out of the airport.
April, which also marks the busiest tourist season in the country. Especially trekkers and climbers planning to trek and climb in the Himalaya via the popular Lukla airport will be affected. Other domestic flights will also get their schedule changed.
What next for Lukla Flights:
All the flights to and from Lukla are rerouted from Kathmandu Airport to Manthali Airport, Ramechhap. Tara Air, Summit Air and Sita Air already have issued a statement about the changes. To reach Manthali, you need to travel to Ramechhap from Kathmandu, catch your flight to Lukla and repeat the same route while returning back to the city.
The flight time from Manthali to Lukla will be comparatively shorter (50 minutes for round trip). Still, there will be a couple of flights from Kathmandu to Lukla after 8 am. But we don’t think it will be sensible to wait for those flights as we all know that the weather in Lukla is always uncertain. So, the best option is to fly to Lukla via Manthali Airport.
How to reach Manthali:
You can travel to Manthali Airport by road. In general, it takes about 4-5 hours to reach there. As you will have to reach Manthali early to catch your flight, you can either travel there one day prior to the flight or leave Kathmandu very early in the morning around 3 am. In both cases, it’s better to take a private transfer to Manthali as the local transfer timings do not match with the flight timings. Manthali airport used to operate Lukla flights during air traffic congestion at Kathmandu Airport (TIA) in the past. As it is the closest airport in the eastern part of Nepal from Kathmandu, the airport poses itself as the best option to fly to Lukla in the present situation.
What are we planning?
To overcome this situation, Annapurna Foothills Team recently made a visit to Manthali to plan our operations and find the best solution for our guests this spring season. To express our opinion, we think that driving early morning to Manthali for 4-5 hours and then boarding the Lukla flight is the best solution at the moment because accommodation facility in Manthali is not that favorable to spend the night.
We do know that it’s very inappropriate for our clients to get up and start very early but with mutual effort, it won’t be that tough. We will have takeaway breakfast ready for you which you can eat in car/van.
Another reliable and a bit expensive than regular flights option is going for a helicopter upgrade and flying to Lukla straight from Kathmandu. The Kathmandu helipad area will not be affected and you can have Helicopter flight to Lukla from 6.30 am onwards. The upgrade could cost you a top up of USD 250-500 per person depending on the payload and availability of the flights.
Trekking and climbing in the Himalaya of Nepal is always a challenge, but the rewards and experiences are even higher. We request all of our guests to take this changes as an adventure instead of an obstacle. Our team at Kathmandu, Malthali and Lukla will try our best to make this adventure as convenient as possible for our guests