Last week I wrote about how MIAT Mongolian is planning on flying to the United States. The airline has now revealed more details about its plans, including which city it intends to fly to, so I wanted to share those updates.
In this post:
MIAT Mongolian plans to fly Boeing 787 to San Francisco
Back in 2019, Mongolia’s national airline, MIAT Mongolian, began the process of filing with the Department of Transportation (DOT) for launching flights to the United States. Those plans were suspended for some amount of time during the pandemic, but in recent weeks the airline has continued trying to get the regulatory approval needed to start this service.
While plans for this were announced a few years ago, the reason this has taken so long is because MIAT Mongolian had ordered two Boeing 787-9s, partly to be able to expand into long haul markets. The airline is expected to take delivery of these two planes in the second quarter of 2023 and first quarter of 2024. The first 787 to join MIAT Mongolian’s fleet has been performing test flights in Charleston, and has the registration code JU-1789.
As noted by @IshrionA, MIAT Mongolian has just revealed where in the United States it intends to fly to. Specifically, the airline hopes to fly between Ulaanbaatar (ULN) and San Francisco (SFO), which is a 5,818-mile journey. It remains to be seen what kind of frequencies the airline will offer, though I’d imagine they’ll be less than daily.
The other challenge is that Mongolia needs to achieve Category 1 status with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is required for an airline to be able to fly nonstop to the United States. This is something that needs to be done on a government level, and it will require some effort on Mongolia’s part.
It’s anyone’s guess if this route ends up coming to fruition. This might surprise some, but I’m going to put this in the “likely happening” category, given that the airline has in fact ordered 787s, and one of the planes is close to being delivered.
For context on MIAT Mongolian, the airline currently operates a fleet of five planes, including four Boeing 737s and one Boeing 767.
I visited Mongolia several years ago and even flew MIAT Mongolian from Ulaanbaatar to Frankfurt, which was a fascinating flight. But there weren’t many tourists in Mongolia, and most definitely not many from the United States.
Could MIAT Mongolian make flights to the USA work?
Lots of airlines have aspirations of flying to the United States. Sometimes it’s because airlines see an actual business case for it, sometimes it’s for prestige, and sometimes it’s for developing tourism and investment.
This plan on MIAT Mongolian’s part is ambitious, no matter how you slice it:
- There are estimated to be under 20,000 Mongolian Americans, so that’s hardly a large population for establishing air service
- I imagine this route would largely be about developing tourism, in hopes that a nonstop flight to Mongolia will encourage more people to visit this fascinating country
- Mongolia has a pretty robust mining industry, though it’s hard to estimate just how much lucrative business traffic there is between the United States and Mongolia
- I imagine cargo could be another significant factor here, since this would be the only nonstop cargo link between Mongolia and the United States
As much as this seems unsustainable on the surface, perhaps there is some merit to this, in the overall context of attracting more visitors to Mongolia? The airline is government owned, and even if the carrier lost a significant amount of money, that might be more than made up for by the additional incremental tourists.
MIAT Mongolian is moving forward with preparations for launching flights to the United States, ahead of the national carrier taking delivery of two new Boeing 787-9s. The airline hopes to fly to San Francisco, though Mongolia first needs to achieve a Category 1 rating with the FAA. This is one of the more out-there new routes on the horizon, and I’d love to see this launch.
What do you make of MIAT Mongolian launching flights to the United States?