Home Features Tourists Stranded in Lukla as Flights Remain Suspended for 10 Days Due to Bad Weather
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Tourists Stranded in Lukla as Flights Remain Suspended for 10 Days Due to Bad Weather

Tourists visiting the Everest region are facing travel disruptions as flights have been suspended at Tenzing Hillary Airport in Lukla for the past ten days due to adverse weather conditions.

Thick fog and strong winds have made takeoffs and landings for both airplanes and helicopters impossible since May 26th. This coincides with the typical return window for foreign and domestic tourists who trek the Everest region. Many are now stranded in Lukla, anxious to get back to Kathmandu.

“The weather is not cooperating,” said Diwas Dahal with National News Agency, Air Traffic Controller at the Nepal Civil Aviation Authority in Lukla. “Currently, there are more tourists leaving the region than coming in, but the low visibility makes it unsafe for any flights to operate.”

While Lukla Airport is typically overcrowded during peak season, Amrit Magar, head of Tara Air’s Lukla station, highlights the added challenge of the current situation. “The cancellations have significantly impacted tourists looking to depart Lukla as the season comes to a close,” he said.

With air travel unavailable, some tourists are forced to trek for three to four hours down to Thamdanda, a lower village accessible by road. Bumpy Bolero jeeps are the only vehicles that can navigate the 70 km unpaved road from Thamdanda to Salleri, the nearest town with onward connections to Kathmandu. Transport operators are charging Rs. 2,200 per person for this uncomfortable and time-consuming journey.

The situation seems unlikely to improve soon. Meteorologist Raju Pradhanang predicts continued monsoon activity in the region, leading to further flight disruptions for several days.

Tenzing-Hillary Airport, the sole air gateway to the Everest region, plays a crucial role in tourism. “This airport is vital for domestic and international tourists who visit Everest, a major tourist destination,” said Toyakumar Shrestha of Lukla. “With no alternative airports operational at higher altitudes, using Lukla is unavoidable for those choosing the air route.”

Thousands of tourists rely on Tenzing-Hillary Airport every year. The current situation underscores the challenges posed by unpredictable weather conditions in the region and the limitations of infrastructure.

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