Major Airports in Nepal
Nepal is a tiny landlocked country. The geographical condition of this country is so unique. About 86 percent of the total land area of this country is covered by hills and mountains. Many parts of the country are so remote and are not accessible. Road transportation is the only most dependable transportation in Nepal since there are no water transportation facilities available. Ropeways and Railways are not developed in this country. After, road transportation, air transportation has wide scope in Nepal. At present, there are 34 actively operating Airports in Nepal.
Air Transportation is the fastest transportation, which has brought revolutionary changes in all the realms of human activities. With the help of air transportation, we can travel to any part of the world in a very comfortable way and within a very short time. We can travel quite a long distance in a blinking of an eye.
A journey by air is always a source of superb pleasure and knowledge. It broadens our vision and deepens our intelligence. It leads us an opportunity to enjoy the wonderful vistas of nature, to observe the amazing progress of the people and varied traditions and cultures.
Nepal is a landlocked country. It has no relation to the sea and oceans. The country is surrounded by giant snowcapped peaks and massive hills. In such conditions, road transportation is more common here. However, many remote and secluded areas cannot be accessed by roads. Therefore, air transportation is gaining popularity.
The air transportation facility in Nepal, on one hand, provides you access to the remote and secluded areas of Nepal without much effort and time and at the same time, you would have the most thrilling experience and superb mountain views. Flying over the magnificent mountain peaks itself is so romantic. Peering through the window, you will have the most astonishing scenes and sights. The lush green hillsides at someplace, somewhere bare rugged hills, and somewhere densely settled or scattered villages will steal your heart.
Overall, a journey by plane is a lifetime experience to cherish. For many, it is a dream come true. Here in this article, we highlight some important airports in Nepal that are making travel convenient for decades.
Table of Contents
- 1 Major Airports in Nepal
- 1.1 Tribhuvan International Airport
- 1.2 Tenzing-Hillary Airport – ( Lukla )
- 1.3 Pokhara Airport
- 1.4 Biratnagar Airport
- 1.5 Nepalgunj Airport
- 1.6 Bharatpur Airport
- 1.7 Jomsom Airport
- 1.8 Bhairahawa Airport
- 1.9 Manthali Airport – (Ramechhap)
- 1.10 Dhangadhi Airport
- 1.11 Phaplu Airport
- 1.12 Janakpur Airport
- 1.13 Chandragadi Airport – (Bhadrapur)
- 1.14 Talcha Airport – (Rara Lake, Mugu Airport)
- 1.15 Juphal Airport – (Dolpa)
- 1.16 Tumlingtar Airport
Major Airports in Nepal
Tribhuvan International Airport
Tribhuvan International Airport is the only international airport in Nepal to date. This airport is located in Kathmandu. This is also the first airport in Nepal. This airport was built in 1942. Initially, the airport was named Kathmandu Airport. The airport was renamed Tribhuvan International Airport in 1955. The airport code of Tribhuwan International Airport is KTM for IATA and VNKT for ICAO.
Tribhuvan International Airport connects Nepal with 40 destinations in 17 countries. Thus, it is the busiest airport in Nepal. Kathmandu airport lies at an elevation of 1338 meters. The runway length of Kathmandu airport is 3350 meters and 45 meters wide. The Tribhuwan International Airport apron capacity for international aircraft is 9 medium and wide category aircraft. Whereas its apron capacity for domestic aircraft is 17 small aircraft and a helipad with a capacity of 13 helicopters.
International airlines such as Air Arabia, Qatar Airways, Thai Airways, Air India, Air China, Etihad Airways, Jazeera Airways, and many more airways operate regular flights to Tribhuwan International airport. The airport serves all year round in all weather conditions. Likewise, some domestic airlines that operate flights to and from Tribhuwan International airport to every corner of the country are Nepal Airlines, Buddha Air, Saurya Airlines, Shree Airlines, Simrik Airlines, Yeti Airlines, and Tara Air, Sita Air, and Summit Air.
Tenzing-Hillary Airport – ( Lukla )
Lukla Airport is located in the bustling town of Solukhumbu district of province No. 1. The airport was built in 1964 but the proper runway was not built until 2001. With a small runway length of 527 meters, Lukla is one of the busiest domestic airports in Nepal owing to its popularity as the nearest airport to Mount Everest. Officially delivering services as Tenzing-Hillary airport, it was constructed under the leadership of Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary in the 60s.
The airport codes of Lukla airport are LUA (IATA) and VNLK (IACO). Lukla Airport (Tenzing Hillary Airport) is regarded as the most dangerous airport in the world and it is rightly known so. Apart from a short runway, it has an elevation of about 9500 feet which results in two more problems – thin air and lesser landing time. Additionally, the landings must be in one go as the airport is surrounded by mountains. Minimal landing aids and inconsistent weather may further worsen the condition. Pilots have to undergo specialized training by the airport’s staff and get licensed by them before they can perform flight operations at this airport.
Lukla Airport only operates domestic flights. The airport actively runs scheduled flights to Kathmandu airport. Some airlines that run flights to and from Lukla are Tara Air, Summit Air, Sita Air, and Nepal Airlines.
Pokhara Airport is the third busiest domestic airport after Tribhuvan International Airport and Lukla Airport. The airport is located at the heart of Pokhara valley. The airport was built in 1958. Pokhara airport serves as the main gateway for the travelers heading to pilgrimage sites like Muktinath temple and many trekking trails of the Annapurna region.
The IATA and IACO codes for Pokhara airport are PKR and VNPK, respectively. The airport sits at an elevation of 827 m above sea level. With growing popularity as a tourist spot, the Nepal government has initiated its massive renovation as an international airport. The new runways will be 8200 feet long along with a breadth of 147 feet. There will also be multiple parallel taxiways. The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal is undertaking a renovation.
Flights to Jomsom, Bharatpur, Manang, Kathmandu, and Bhairahawa are available from Pokhara airport. Buddha Air, Yeti Airlines, Tara Air, Sita Air, Simrik Airlines, Summit Airways, Nepal Airlines, and Shree Airlines regularly operate scheduled flights from Pokhara airport to the above-mentioned places.
Biratnagar Airport is one of the most pivotal airports in Nepal as it caters to the colossal and thickly populated city of Biratnagar. Few distinguishing features of Biratnagar include 5000 feet by 98 feet asphalt runway and a facility for aircraft refueling. Though Biratnagar is a major industrial hub, it opens up to many well-known tourist destinations. Earlier it was used by Nepali Air Force. The government of Nepal had announced to upgrade it to a multinational airport. The tests are successfully conducted since it has geared up for the same.
The IATA and ICAO codes for the Biratnagar Airport are BIR and VNVT respectively. This is one of the busiest domestic airports in Nepal. Buddha Air, Nepal Airlines, Sita Airlines, Yeti Airlines, etc. are regularly operating scheduled flights from this airport.
Nepalgunj airport in Nepalgunj district is one of Nepal’s major airports. It is the second-largest airport after Kathmandu in terms of air connectivity. Nepalgunj airport operates flights with 16 airports in different parts of Nepal. It has played a significant role to connect the rural hilly and mountainous areas of the west and far west. It contributes significantly to tourism development as many potential tourist destinations lie in these regions. Consequently, it serves as the primary air gate for Indian pilgrims to visit the Kailash Manasarovar of Tibet.
Nepalgunj airport lies in the Terai region, and its elevation is 150 meters. The IATA and IACO codes for Nepalgunj airport are KEP and VNNG, respectively. Ever since 1961, the airport has been offering its services. It has a single runway with a length of 1505 meters and a width of 30 meters. The airport also has a large apron that can accommodate a variety of large and small regional planes. Overall, the airport aims to add additional flights in the future due to its capacity to accommodate larger aircraft and link to several air routes.
Buddha Air, Yeti Airlines, Tara Air, Shree Airlines, Saurya Airlines, Sita Air, Summit Airways, and Nepal Airlines are flight operating Airlines to and from Nepalgunj airport.
Bharatpur Airport is located in the Chitwan district of Nepal. After Pokhara and Lukla airports, it is one of Nepal’s foreign currency earning domestic airports. The airport, located in the Chitwan area, has provided services to nature enthusiasts since its establishment in 1961 AD. Chitwan is one of the most favorite destinations for relaxing vacations and enjoying Mother Nature. As a result, the Bharatpur airport sees a high volume of passengers. Because of the demand, the airport is expanding the number of aircraft and flight services.
The airport code of Bharatpur Airport for IATA is BHR and for ICAO is VNBP. The airport operates in all weather conditions and is directly connected with Pokhara airport and Kathmandu airport. With an apron capacity of Four ATR42 Types, the airport lies at an elevation of 207 meters. Presently, three major domestic airlines – Buddha Air, Yeti Airlines, and Simrik-run active flights to and from Kathmandu and Pokhara. Despite being one of the busy domestic airports, only two airlines operate regular flights to and from Bharatpur airport. And these airlines are Buddha air and Yeti airlines.
Jomsom Airport is one of the most treacherous airports in Nepal and also in the world. The airport is located at an altitude of 8900 feet above the Kali Gandaki River canyon. The airport connects the city of Jomsom to the rest of Nepal. It serves as a gateway to many tourist destinations including Muktinath Temple which is a favorite choice of both Nepali and Indians.
The airport has an asphalt airstrip of 2400 feet long and 66 feet wide. The air route to this airport is filled with snow-capped mountain ranges. If you happen to travel through this route at the right time of the day, the sun shining on the snow-capped mountains will simply amaze you.
The IATA code for this airport is JMO whereas the ICAO code of this airstrip is VNJS. This airport is very famous among the tourists who tend their visits to several trekking destinations in the Annapurna region.
Nepal Airlines, Sita Air, and Tara Air are operating scheduled flights to this airport.
Gautam Buddha Airport (BWA), also known as Bhairahawa Airport, is situated in the Rupandehi district of Nepal. Massive construction is undergoing to make this airport Nepal’s second international airport by 2020. It was opened in 1958. This is also one of the popular airports of Nepal as many people from India visit Nepal via Sunauli customs station and take flights to Kathmandu. And also, many international visitors from Kathmandu take flights to Bhairahawa to visit Lumbini Temple.
The IATA and ICAO codes of Bhairawa Airport (Gautam Buddha Airport) are BWA and VNBW respectively. The airport is characterized by an asphalt concrete runway and apron. From Bhairahawa airport, regular flights to Kathmandu and Pokhara airport are in operation.
Buddha Air, Yeti Airlines, Shree Airlines, Saurya Airlines, and Nepal Airlines are some of the airlines that operate regular flights to and from Bhairahawa airport. In a year or later, the airport will also start running international flights.
Manthali Airport – (Ramechhap)
Manthali Airport is a domestic airport located at Manthali in the Ramechhap district. Manthali is the district headquarter of the Ramechhap district. The airport located in the Tamakoshi River Valley of Bagmati Province provides the best flight experience in Nepal.
Manthali Airport is also popularly known as Ramechhap Airport. The IATA code of the airport is RHP and the ICAO code of the same is VNRC. This airport is gaining popularity as the flights to Lukla are being operated from this airport.
The airport was built in 1979 and was renovated in 2015. Now the airport is one of the busiest domestic airports because the number of tourists heading toward Everest is very high and the flights must be scheduled early in the morning because it is not possible for landing and take-off during the afternoon because of the fierce gust of wind and poor visibility.
Dhangadhi Airport is a domestic airport in the Kailali district of Nepal. It is located 3 km away from Dhangadhi. Dhangadhi Airport is in the process to be upgraded to an international airport.
Dhangadhi Airport was established on 6 July 1958. The surface of the runway is paved with concrete and has a length of 5000 ft. With an elevation of 600 ft. It is 650 km away from Kathmandu. The IATA and ICAO codes for Dhangadhi Airport are DHI and VNDH respectively.
Major domestic airlines of Nepal operate daily flights to Dhangadhi. Buddha Air has daily and direct flights from Kathmandu to Dhangadhi. From Dhangadhi you can explore further popular places such as Tikapur National Park, Karnali Bridge, and Ghodaghodi Tal.
Phaplu Airport is a domestic airport in the Phaplu village in Solu Dudhkunda in the Solukhumbu district. This airport is only 280 km away from Kathmandu city and lies closer to Lukla Airport. Situated at an elevation of 2413 meters, you can enjoy an alpine climate all-round the year. The runway is 671 meters in length with a blacktopped surface that was paved in 2013. The airport was established in 1976 and several airlines are flying to and from Kathmandu and Biratnagar. The airport is the second most busy airport after Lukla where chartered flights are available. You can explore destinations near Phaplu which are Renjo Pass, Halesi Mahadev temple Tengboche Monastery, Sagarmatha National Park, and others.
Janakpur Airport is a domestic airport in the Dhanusa district of Nepal. It is operated by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN). It is located 4 km away from Janakpur. The biggest temple of Nepal known as Janaki Temple lies in Janakpur.
Janakpur Airport was built on 13 February 1960. The surface of the runway is paved with asphalt and has a length of 4000 ft. With an elevation of 256 ft. It is 200 km away from Kathmandu. The IATA and ICAO codes for Janakpur Airport are JKR and VNJP respectively.
Major domestic airlines of Nepal operate daily flights to Janakpur. Buddha Air has daily and direct flights from Kathmandu to Janakpur. The nearest location you can travel to from Janakpur is Jaleshwor and Dhanusha Dham. These places are famous for their cultural importance.
Chandragadi Airport – (Bhadrapur)
Bhadrapur Airport is a domestic airport in the Jhapa district and is also known as Chandragadi Airport. It is only 4-5 km away from the city center of Bhadrapur. Bhadrapur is the oldest municipality in Nepal. The closest city to Bhadrapur is Ilam which is the tea city of Nepal.
The airport was built in 1963 with a runway surface of asphalt and a length of 5000 feet. It is at an elevation of 300 feet and is 450 km away from the capital city of Nepal, Kathmandu. The domestic airlines operate daily flights to Bhadrapur. Bhadrapur is the main entry point for the trekkers visiting Mt Kanchenjunga, the third tallest mountain in the world. You can also visit Makalu Barun National Park and Siliguri.
Talcha Airport – (Rara Lake, Mugu Airport)
The Talcha airport is the most remote in the country. Talcha airport in Mugu district is one of the most visually pleasing airports globally and, the world’s scariest airport at the same time. The airport sits at the height of 2720 meters above sea level on a hilltop. Because of its complex setting, taking off and landing are precarious. This domestic airport has been serving people since 2003, and it is widely popular for getting to Rara Lake at the earliest. Henceforth, most refers to Talcha airport as Rara airport as well. The airport has one runway of length 570 meters and 20 meters wide.
The airport codes for Talcha airport are THL for IATA and VNRR for IACO. Tara Air, Sita Air, Summit Air, and Nepal Airlines regularly operate flights to Talcha airport from Nepalgunj, the only connected airport. The parking capacity of Talcha airport is two D228 types of aircraft, and the size of the apron is 2312 sq. m. The runway and apron are paved with asphalt concrete.
Juphal Airport – (Dolpa)
Dolpa Airport has been making life easier for people living in Dolpo since 1975. Dolpo airport, also known as Dolpa Jhuphal Airport, resides at an elevation of 2503 meters and offers breathtaking vistas. Many of Nepal’s rural airports operate regular flights to only one of the country’s main airports. However, Dolpo Airport is the only remote airport with flights to Nepalgunj and Surkhet regularly. As a result, it is one of Nepal’s well-run small airports. It has become more efficient for tourists with a great interest in Nepal’s remote and inaccessible places since its establishment. Hikers undertaking Upper Dolpo Trek, one of Nepal’s most popular off-the-beaten-path treks, find flying to Dolpa Airport a memorable flying experience.
Similarly, as the airport lies in the beautiful Dolpo district, it is a gateway to several traveling destinations. For instance, Dolpa Airport is the only gateway to Shey Phoksundo Lake and Shey Phoksundo National Park. It is also the gateway to many trekking destinations in the Dolpo Region. Dolpa airport, similarly to any other airport in Nepal, has a single airstrip. Its runway is about 560 m long and 20 m wide. The airport codes for Dolpa airport are DOP (IATA) and VNDP (IACO). The parking capacity of Dolpo airport is two DHC6 types of planes, and its apron size is 2400 square meters. Tara Air, Sita Air, Nepal Airlines, and Summit Air are the only airlines that run their flights to Dolpo airport.
Tumlingtar Airport is a domestic airport in the Sankhuwasabha district of Nepal. Tumlingtar is the deepest valley in Nepal in between Arun and Sabha Rivers.
Tumlingtar Airport was established on 1 October 1972. The surface of the runway is paved with asphalt and has a length of 4001 ft. With an elevation of 1315 ft, it is 500 km away from Kathmandu. The IATA and ICAO codes for Tumlingtar Airport are TMI and VNVT respectively.
Major domestic airlines of Nepal operate daily flights to Tumlingtar. Buddha Air has daily and direct flights from Kathmandu and Biratnagar to Tumlingtar. It is the main gateway to Makalu Trek. You can visit Makalu Barun National Park during this unforgettable trek.