Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport

Coordinates: 34°08′09″N 077°32′47″E / 34.13583°N 77.54639°E / 34.13583; 77.54639
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Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport
IXL Front 2010.jpg
Airport typePublic
OwnerIndian Air Force
OperatorAirports Authority of India
LocationLeh, Ladakh, India
Elevation AMSL3,256 m / 10,682 ft
Coordinates34°08′09″N 077°32′47″E / 34.13583°N 77.54639°E / 34.13583; 77.54639
WebsiteLeh Airport
IXL is located in Ladakh
Location of airport in Ladakh
IXL is located in India
IXL (India)
Direction Length Surface
m ft
07/25 2,752 9,028 Asphalt
Statistics (April 2022 - March 2023)
Passengers1,260,725 (Increase 20%)
Aircraft movements9,068 (Increase 4.2%)
Cargo tonnage1,938 (Decrease 34.9%)
Source: AAI[1][2][3]

Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport (IATA: IXL, ICAO: VILH) is a domestic airport serving Leh, the capital of Ladakh, India. It is the 23rd highest commercial airport in the world at 3,256 m (10,682 ft) above mean sea level. The airport is named after 19th Kushok Bakula Rinpoche, an Indian statesman and monk, whose Spituk Monastery is in direct vicinity to the airfield.

Military use[edit]

Due to the presence of mountain winds in the afternoon, all flights take off and land in the morning. The approach is challenging as it is unidirectional and has high terrain towards the eastern end of the airport. Airport security is highly restricted with Indian Army patrols. Due to its location in between the Himalayas, the approach to Leh Airport has been named as one of the world's most scenic approaches.[4]

Civilian use[edit]

Civil aviation enclave[edit]

In February 2016, it was reported that the Indian Air Force had handed the airport to Airports Authority of India, which planned to expand it for civilian purposes.[5] However, the reports of IAF vacating the entire air base were dismissed by Ministry of Defence and Deputy Commissioner of Leh. They clarified that the IAF would vacate only a small part of land for construction of a new terminal.[6][7][8]

Construction of a new terminal has been completed. The new multi-level terminal is expected to span across approximately 19,000 square metres along with fixed link bridges and a utility building of around 3,340 square metres.

New terminal

Due to increasing traffic, the Airports Authority of India is constructing a new state-of-the-art passenger terminal just beside the current terminal, at a cost of 480 crore (US$60 million). It will be equipped with all modern and essential passenger-friendly facilities and amenities. It will have a 4-star rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment (GRIHA) rated energy-efficient terminal building, and will have 18 check-in counters, in-line baggage handing system and centralized cooling and heating systems for providing comfort to the passengers, specially during extreme winter times. It will be capable of serving 2 million passengers per annum.

Construction of the new terminal began in February 2019, and was expected to be completed by December 2022. Due to some delays, it is now expected to be completed by mid-2023.[9]

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Aerial view of the airport. At 10,682 feet, it is the highest airport in India.
Air IndiaChandigarh, Delhi, Jammu, Srinagar[10]
IndiGoChandigarh, Delhi, Jammu, Mumbai[11][12]
Seasonal: Mumbai


SpiceXpress Delhi[15]


Annual passenger traffic at IXL airport. See Wikidata query.


  1. ^ "Annexure III – Passenger Data" (PDF). aai.aero. Retrieved 23 April 2023.
  2. ^ "Annexure II – Aircraft Movement Data" (PDF). aai.aero. Retrieved 23 April 2023.
  3. ^ "Annexure IV – Freight Movement Data" (PDF). aai.aero. Retrieved 23 April 2023.
  4. ^ Oscar Boyd (21 October 2017), Highest Airports in the World: Landing in Leh (Air India) | 4K
  5. ^ "IAF to vacate Leh airport, to develop base at alternate site". 6 February 2016.
  6. ^ "No plans to vacate Leh air base: IAF". 9 February 2016.
  7. ^ "New terminal to be built at Leh airport for Rs 2 billion". 21 July 2016.
  8. ^ "Leh airport on expansion mode as Air Force gives 11 acres to AAI". 1 August 2017.
  9. ^ "New Terminal Building with enhanced capacity in making at Leh Airport". ANI News. Retrieved 8 July 2022.
  10. ^ "Air India Timetable". Air India. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  11. ^ "INDIGO 1H23 DOMESTIC ROUTES ADDITION SUMMARY – 05MAR23". Aeroroutes. Retrieved 7 March 2023.
  12. ^ "IndiGo to launch flight services between Delhi, Leh on February 22". Moneycontrol. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  13. ^ "SpiceJet flight schedule". SpiceJet. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  14. ^ "Vistara flight schedule". Vistara. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  15. ^ "SpiceJet launches dedicated freighter services to Leh in Ladakh". Business Standard. Retrieved 10 December 2020.

External links[edit]