Due to runway maintenance from April 1st to June 30th, 2019,  All fixed-wing aircraft flights to Lukla now will operate from Manthali airport, Ramechhap this spring season 2019.

Since Domestic and international flights used to run from the same runway, all the international flights in and out of Kathmandu airport will now run between 8 AM to 10 PM, so international airlines also have adjusted their flight schedule accordingly.

After Change of Lukla Flights from Manthali Airport, Ramechhap this Season :
How to Plan your trek to Everest base camp, Gokyo Lakes trek, Mera peak, Island peak or Lobuche Climbs without Hassle (?) please find some suggestions here.

What is happening in Kathmandu Airport now?

Now it is certain that Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) / Kathmandu Airport will close from 10 pm to 8 am every day for runway maintenance from April 1st to June 30th, 2019.
It is going to impact all international and domestic flights but the most affected will be the flights to Lukla as they always operate early in the morning.

Every trek season thousands of tourists fly to Lukla to complete their dream of trekking to Everest Base Camp, climbing Mera Peak, Island Peak or Lobuche Peak or trek to Gokyo Valley.
All the Everest Expeditions from the south side via Nepal also operate after flying to Lukla and trek to base camp.

What does this mean to you or the trekkers to Everest region?

From 1st of April, all flights to and from Lukla are rerouted from Kathmandu Airport to Manthali Airport ( 3 to 4 hours drive from Kathmandu) at Ramechhap as the Kathmandu Airport ( TIA) will be shut down completely from 10 pm to 8 am every day until June 30th. Though the flight time will be comparatively shorter ( 48 minutes for round trip Ramechhap – Lukla – Ramechhap), you are required to travel to Ramechhap from Kathmandu to catch your Lukla flight and retrace the same route while returning back to Kathmandu, Due to this new arrangement, there are certain things you should know before traveling to Lukla.

In the meantime, please be informed that there will still be a couple of flights from Kathmandu to Lukla after 8 am once the airport opens but we don’t think it will be sensible to wait for those flights as they may delay or cancel.
The air traffic and landings at the airport can cause delays and we all know that the weather in Lukla is unpredictable,  the later the flights, the higher the chances for the weather in Lukla to go unfavorable. So, the best option is to fly to Lukla via Manthali Airport, it might be faster, safer and certain.

Where is Manthali Airport?

The Manthali Airport (493 m. /1617 ft) at Ramechhap is situated approximately 132 km east of Kathmandu on the bank of Tama Koshi River in Manthali, a municipality and headquarter of Ramechhap district. 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. The airport also used to operate Lukla flights during air traffic congestion at Kathmandu Airport (TIA) in the past and also for emergency landings.

How to get to Manthali Airport?

You can travel to Manthali Airport by road from Kathmandu. It takes about 3 to 5 hours to reach there depending on the traffic. As you will have to reach Manthali early to catch your flight, you can either travel Manthali one day prior to the flight or leave Kathmandu very early in the morning around 2 or 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. More specifically, you don’t get any early morning local buses. And in their regular run also, you can never be sure about their punctuality.
If you have booked your travel arrangements from travel or trekking agencies or directly with the airlines, they should take care of your transportation, which in the most likely case will be a private transfer.

Where to stay in Manthali?

Manthali is not a very well facilitated town like Kathmandu or Pokhara as it is not used to receiving a huge number of travelers. Accommodation facilities are limited and the service is very basic. Due to the present situation with many travelers travelling via Manthali this season, it is very likely that you will not find accommodation easily. Also, flight crew and staffs from the airlines will be occupying most of the hotels in the area.

So, in this situation, a better option for you is to go for accommodations at Mulkot area (from where Manthali Airport is just an hour’s drive). Accommodations at Mulkot are far better and you will also save the trouble of finding accommodation in Manthali. Or we drive from Kathmandu early in the morning and catch flight the same day. All Earthbound Expedition’s flight to Lukla we will be arranging this way.

What we think is best for you?

To tackle this new situation, Earthbound Expeditions made a recent trip to Manthali to plan our operations and find the best two solution for you. We think that driving early morning to Manthali for 4-5 hours and then boarding the Lukla flight should also fine as first day’s walk to Phakding after Landing Lukla is not too long.

The  other good way to deal with this change  of airport is to drive to Mulkot one day earlier ( after 3 PM or so after finishing your sightseeing) and stay overnight. Mulkot is a small settlement, from where Manthali Airport is just 37 km away (1 hour’s drive).

This will break the monotony of a long drive and Mulkot has good standard accommodation facilities, which Manthali lacks. One can stay comfortably in a hotel in Mulkot, wake up at 5 am the next morning and drive an hour to the airport for the flight.

This will make the day less tiring and the schedule of your trek will also not be affected.
Another reliable option for you will be :  If you have pretty deep pockets – would be opting for a helicopter upgrade and flying to Lukla straight from Kathmandu Airport.

The Kathmandu helipad area will not be affected by the maintenance plan and you can have Heli 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 on your ticket price already purchased. Overall it may add another USD 500 both way for your Everest trek cost if you wish to choose Heli to fly option from Kathmandu airport to Lukla.

You can also do trip Insurance for cancel, delay or change of the plan if you wish to cover this extra cost.

We hope that this blog by Earthbound Expeditions has been helpful to you to plan your spring season 2019 trek to Everest region. For any further queries, please feel free to contact Earthbound Expeditions at +977-1-4701051  or write us to earthboundnpl@gmail.com. Thank you.