China and Mongolia Work To Expand Route Development

 - August 14, 2017, 1:00 PM

The Mongolian Civil Aviation Authority (MCAA) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Civil Aviation Administration of China on increasing cross-border air routes during the International Civil Aviation Organization’s August 7 to 11 Conference of Asia-Pacific DGCAs in Ulaanbaatar. Speaking at the conference, Mongolia’s CAA chairman, Byambasuren Luvsansambuu, noted that increasing the number of airways would help lift the traffic burden on an underdeveloped route structure. Chinese carriers now account for 27 percent of all flights through Mongolia.

Mongolia and China share six border points, and direct regular flights operate from Mongolia to four Chinese cities. Airline officials from the two countries continue to work on finding a seventh viable route. Chinese tourists account for the largest share of the inbound tourism market of Mongolia. During a recent conference on development of the western region of Mongolia and the country’s Khovd Province, local government promoted the potential for a route between Khovd city and Urumqi, the capital city of China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.   

Meanwhile, a so-called Chinese silk road in the air could pass over Mongolia’s territory, as Mongolia considers opening its airspace for domestic flights from China’s northwest Xinjiang Uyghur region to northeast provinces such as Jilin and Liaoning.

Separately, Mongolia’s flag carrier, MIAT Mongolian Airlines, plans to expand its own network in the region under its 2018-2020 business plan. The carrier recently launched Busan-Ulaanbaatar and plans to start regular flights to Bangkok in November. To support the expansion, MIAT has agreed to lease two Boeing 737 Max 8 narrowbodies starting in January and May of 2019. At the same time, MIAT has started negotiation with its partners to launch flights to cities in North America. Most recently, it signed a contract with Amadeus to upgrade its information technology system.    

On the third day of the IATA conference, the Civil Aviation Authority of North Korea expressed interest in launching direct flights between Pyongyang and Ulaanbaatar, while the Mongolian CAA consulted with its Russian counterpart over joint use of a trans-Siberian air route.