Cool: MIAT Mongolian Acquiring 787-9 (To Fly To The US?!)

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Well this sure is exciting!

MIAT Mongolian Getting 787-9

Air Lease Corporation has announced that they’ve entered a long-term lease agreement with MIAT Mongolian Airlines for one new Boeing 787-9 aircraft.

The plane is scheduled to be delivered in the spring of 2021, and it will be the first and only 787 in MIAT’s fleet. While exact details of the cabin interiors aren’t yet known, it’s expected that the plane will have 313 seats, including 16 business class seats, 21 premium economy seats, and 276 economy seats.

The airline currently leases two Boeing 737 MAX 8s and one 737-800 from Air Lease Corporation, so this isn’t the first time they’re working together.

Battur Davaakhuu, CEO of MIAT Mongolian Airlines, said the following:

“Our vision is to become a globally recognized Mongolian national flag carrier, and we are making a significant step forward by adding the first 787-9 Dreamliner to our fleet. The Mongolian Dreamliner will fly our passengers direct and in unmatched comfort to their dream destinations. Today is a proud day for MIAT and for all Mongolians.”

MIAT Mongolian’s Current Fleet & Routes

Currently MIAT Mongolian has a fleet of six aircraft, including two 767-300s, four 737-800s, and one 737 MAX 8.

As you can probably tell, the 767-300 is currently their long haul aircraft, and I had the chance to review it a couple of years ago.

The plane has angled business class seats in a 2-1-2 configuration.

As far as MIAT’s route network goes:

  • They operate to quite a few destinations within Asia, including to Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Seoul, etc.
  • They operate a seasonal flight from Ulaanbaatar to Frankfurt
  • They operate a year-round flight from Ulaanbaatar to Berlin via Moscow (that’s an interesting one, eh?)

What Will MIAT Mongolian Use The 787 For?

A 787 can fly just about anywhere, so what is the airline planning?

The press release says that the airline will use the 787 for “key destinations across Asia and Europe.” In fairness, though, that’s a quote from a Boeing executive, so I wouldn’t necessarily put too much weight on that — after all, he was likely just looking at their current route network and going off that, and isn’t involved in future planning for the airline.

There’s another potential hint, though. In early 2019 MIAT Mongolian filed with the US Department of Transportation requesting the right to offer wet lease service to the US. They requested the right to engage in:

(i) scheduled foreign air transportation of persons, property and mail from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, via an intermediate point in Korea, Japan or Hong Kong, to a point or points in the United States; and (ii) charter air transportation, pursuant to a codeshare or wet lease arrangement with a duly authorized and properly supervised US or foreign air carrier

The airline had noted that they wanted to sell flights as of June 2019, and planned to start with codeshare service, but would eventually like to operate a wet lease service (meaning another carrier would be providing the planes and crews, but they’d be selling the tickets).

Given their odd interest in US flights, this order for a 787-9 sure would make a lot of sense:

  • On the one hand, MIAT Mongolian flying to the US seems like a guaranteed way to lose money (though that hasn’t stopped a lot of airlines)
  • On the other hand, the 767 seems to do the trick for their Europe routes, and it’s not like the routes are highly competitive, so I can’t imagine they’d acquire an expensive new 787 to operate an existing route

Bottom Line

MIAT Mongolian will get a single 787-9 in early 2021, which will represent a huge step forward for the airline. It’s anyone’s guess what they plan to do with the plane, though. They could use it for one of their existing routes to Europe or Asia, or could this finally be the plane that gets them to fly to the US (as much as that seems like a guaranteed way to lose money)?

Regardless, congrats to the airline on this very cool upcoming addition to their fleet!

What do you think MIAT Mongolian will do with their 787?

  1. I guess the Boeing executive knows MIAT’s plans for the aircraft quite well. I am sure they discussed this in depth. After all, there are many configuration options for such aircraft that in one way or the other depend on the future usage. Only 16 business class seats for example point to more leisure use.

    I would guess they will mainly use it for weekly flights to large and rich European O&D markets (London, Paris) to support their own incoming tourism industry, and weekly flights to south east asian beach destinations (Phuket, Bali, Vietnam), mainly in the winter, for outgoing tourism of their rising middle class.

    North American mining executives (Vancouver etc.) will continue to connect through ICN on Korean or Asiana. Not a market they can crack IMO.

  2. @David
    Not sure how serious your question is, but Mongolians speak Mongolian, which is a language unrelated to either Russian or Chinese. If your question is about why they use the Cyrillic alphabet, that’s a 20th century development, the result of Mongolia becoming a Soviet satellite state in the 1920s. Prior to that, Mongolian used its own writing system (a connected vertical script that looks kind of like Arabic turned sideways), which is still used by Mongolian speakers in China (Inner Mongolia is part of China).

  3. @David

    Have you ever heard of the USSR?

    Love Mongolia, but any US route via another North Asian point would make little sense, as one-stops via PEK or ICN already exist. If it were nonstop, or even just replacing the 767s on some routes, Iā€™d be excited.

  4. @Chris: have you ever been to Mongolia? Their ‘middle class’, especially outside the capital city, still can’t afford proper heating, let alone long haul flights to foreign destinations. Just look at how their smaller, domestic carriers like Aero Mongolia or Hunnu Air fill their seats: foreigners only. I know that from first hand experience, I’ve been to Mongolia often enough to have a good view on how things are there. People still aren’t rich, there’s still no money for exotic tropical holidays. As such, I guess that their main focus should and will be on business or getting tourists in. And somehow a lot of people still believe that an indirect airline connection with the US can work miracles here.

    @Lucky: The route via Moscow to Berlin surprises you? I bet that you can find a lot of people there who carry the genes of Chinggis Khan. šŸ˜€

    @David: the secret is: they don’t. They just got forced to use Cyrillic script during the Soviet era, that’s all.

  5. Ulaanbaatar is opening a new airport (probably later this year). The current airport is limited because of terrain and has only one landing direction. Ulaanbaatar is at a strategic location between Europe and China/Northeast Asia and also between the US and Southasia. So the concept would be to generate transfer traffic on this routes (at a competitive price), for instance from FRA/LHR/CDG to PEK/PVG/HKG or IAD/LAX/YVR to BKK/SIN. In addition, Mongolia is a popular destination for European tourists, mainly from Germany and France, and also a significant player in the mining business. That would generate incoming traffic. Last but not least, there is a small but financially well equipped upper class, which during winter would also (and actually already does) feed the flights to Southeast Asia. Just my 50cents.

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