LUKLA FLIGHTS DIVERTED TO RAMECHHAP – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
All Trekking Operators in Nepal were notified by the Nepal Aviation Authority that flights to and from Lukla would be diverted from Kathmandu to Ramechhap starting April 1st, 2019 and in effect until June 30th, 2019. It is possible that these dates will change but that’s what we know for now.
Ramechhap is a small airstrip 140 km (85 miles) from Kathmandu with little or no existing tourist infrastructure. The drive to the airport takes around 4 hours and the return to Kathmandu between 4 and 6 hours depending on traffic. This diversion will impact all trekkers regardless of the tour company travelling to the Everest Region. Bottom line, this does not change anything regarding your trek or your schedule. Although it is an inconvenience and added challenge to have to get up earlier and travel back and forth to Ramecchap on a windy mountain road.
We will be providing transportation to Ramechhap to all trekkers who have booked with us at no additional cost and one of our team will be accompanying trekkers on a daily basis to Ramechhap to make sure everyone gets on their flights. If flights are cancelled from Ramechhap due to bad weather and conditions still permit helicopters to fly it may be possible to arrange the helicopter from Ramechhap as well. The cost for this will vary depending on the demand and number of trekkers but its safe to plan on at least $500 extra for a helicopter and maybe more. If guests end up taking a helicopter we will refund them for the one way flight fate of $150 to Lukla (Indian Guests will be refunded $80).
If all flights are cancelled and it’s not possible to arrange a helicopter from Ramecchap guests will have the option of staying in Ramecchap or returning to Kathmandu. However, keep in mind only basic accommodation is available in Ramecchap. If guests return to Kathmandu they will need to leave the hotel again the next day at 3am to try to catch the flight.
If you want to avoid Ramecchap one alternate option is to go by helicopter. Helicopters will continue to fly from Kathmandu to Lukla. We may be able to arrange the helicopter If guests notify us in advance for an extra $500 one-way (We will refund your $150 flight fare) so after refund the additional cost to you would be $350 each way. Please let us know if you would like us to arrange this and we will confirm availability.
We realize the added expense of the helicopter is significant and want to remind guests that we already have confirmed flights and it’s not a requirement. If you are thinking about the helicopter option you might just want to consider the Kathmandu to Lukla portion and not booking round-trip so that you can avoid the possibility of being stuck overnight in Ramecchap.
Are there any fixed wing flights from Kathmandu to Lukla?
Some flights are still operating between Kathmandu and Lukla but only on an irregular basis. The airlines periodically need to bring their airplanes back to Kathmandu for maintenance and to rotate pilots and staff. This means that in some cases the last flight of the day will return to Kathmandu from Lukla or that the first flight will be via Kathmandu. The last flight of the day is always the most likely to be cancelled as weather conditions are best in the morning. If the last flight is cancelled it also means that same aircraft will be in Lukla or Ramecchap and the first flight the next morning will also be cancelled or simply diverted. Despite the inconvenience, flying from Ramecchap at this point is more reliable.
Will this impact treks post September 2019?
The closure of the Kathmandu airport to Lukla flights might not seem to make a lot of sense for Nepal, but in fact it’s partly due to the limited capacity of the international airport and heavy traffic that these diversions are taking place and not just construction. Based on our conversations with the airlines we think there is a good chance these diversion will continue throughout the year.
We realize this is going to cause issues and are notifying all existing guests in advance. It does add to the challenge of reaching Lukla but it is unavoidable and something everyone in Nepal needs to deal with. Be assured that we will do our best to ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible and it’s our hope that the Kathmandu Airport will be up and running again soon. Feel free to email us with any questions or concerns.