MIAT From Mongolia, joined Jun 2013, 13 posts, RR: 0 Posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 10486 times:
Having read countless trip reports, I am excited to finally bring you one of my own. This past summer, I returned to Mongolia to visit relatives and to get some much-needed R&R in the countryside. Hoping to escape from the endless traffic jams and dust of the capital Ulaanbaatar, I decided to go see the marvel that is Lake Khuvsgul in the northern part of the nation. Not only is it the largest fresh-water lake in Mongolia, it is also the largest lake by volume and the second largest by area. Although I would have preferred to drive up from Ulaanbaatar and enjoy the sights along the way, time was short and flying to Murun Airport (MXV) was the only option available.
II.CHOOSING AIRLINES/PURCHASING TICKET
Mongolia's commercial aviation industry consists of 4 scheduled airlines (MIAT, Hunnu Air, Eznis Airways, and Aero Mongolia). The largest and oldest is the state-owned MIAT Mongolian Airlines (Монголын Иргэний Агаарын Тээвэр), the national flag carrier which solely operates international flights to PEK, ICN, NRT, HKG, ERL, SVO, and TXL with a fleet of 2 B737-800 and 2 B767-300ER. The remaining carriers all fly both domestically and internationally. Hunnu Air (Хүннү Эйр) operates 3 Fokker 50s and 2 A319-100s and notably flies to DMK and HKG. Eznis Airways (Изинис Эйрвэйз) operates 3 Saab 340bs and 2 Dash 8-400Qs, flying internationally to HLD; its name means "Fly easy" since "nis" means "fly" in Mongolian. Aero Mongolia (Аэромонголиа), lastly, is the second oldest of the 4 carriers and operates 4 Fokker 50s to destinations such as HET and IKT.
Mongolia's domestic aviation market consists of flights to provincial capitals, such as Murun, Khovd City (HVD), Ulaangom (ULO), Olgii (ULG), Dalanzadgad (DLZ), Choibalsan (COQ), and Bayankhongor (BYN), in addition to mining settlements such as Oyu Tolgoi and Tavan Tolgoi. Hunnu Air, Eznis Airways, and Aero Mongolia all fly to Murun. Since it was the high season of the Mongolian tourism industry, all flights were packed and it was extremely difficult finding seats. After much searching, I finally decided on Aero Mongolia and went to the local ticket office in Ulaanbaatar. I should note that it is possible to purchase tickets online since Aero Mongolia and all the other carriers have online booking systems.
III.AT THE AIRPORT
ULN is a small airport that is struggling to meet growing capacity requirement. Fortunately, it is to be replaced by a new airport in the first quarter of 2017.
The departures section of ULN is divided between international and domestic. The international side consists of 3 jetway-equipped gates, all of which share one large departure lounge. The domestic side also has one common departure lounge, from where passengers are bussed out to their respective planes.
I arrived at the airport about 2 hours prior to departure and quickly checked in. Aero Mongolia does not offer a premium class of service.
Domestic check-in area
Aero Mongolia check-in counter
Departures for the day. Aside from Air China, ULN is regularly served by Korean Air from ICN, Aeroflot from SVO, Turkish Airlines from /IST via FRU, and Tianjin Airlines from TSN via HET.
After checking my bags, I made my way through security, which was fast and seamless, and then waited for my flight to board. In addition to our flight, there were 2 Eznis Airways flights departing then, one to Oyu Tolgoi and the other to Ulgii/Ulaangom.
Domestic Departures Lounge
About 20 minutes prior our scheduled departure, the boarding process began and we were bussed off to the tarmac, where our Fokker 50 was parked alongside an Eznis Saab 340b and 2 Hunnu Air Fokker 50s.
On the bus
Air China, Eznis, and Hunnu Air
Eznis Dash 8 departing for Ulaangom/Olgii
Eznis Dash 8 off to Oyu Tolgoi
Air China B738 to PEK
This Kuwait A346 is a common sight here in ULN
Nice message from Aero Mongolia
We were warmly welcomed onboard by a young female attendant, who greeted every passenger with "Сайн байна уу" ("Hello" in Mongolian). The interior of our Fokker 50 was worn, but it was not surprising for an aircraft that has been in continual service for nearly 22 years.
Obligatory legroom shot
The seats were quite comfortable and legroom was sufficient. Once boarding was complete, a male flight attendant handed out newspapers. The load factor was about 40%, so there quite a number of open seats. The flight attendants subsequently did their safety demonstrations. The flight deck gave a short briefing soon after. All announcements were made in Mongolian and English.
The local newspaper
After takeoff, we quickly leveled off into our cruising altitude and the flight attendants began the quick snack service for our flight. There was a wide selection of sodas and juices in addition to tea and coffee. Along with the beverage, we were served a flaky pastry roll and a chocolate bar that seemed to be a Turkish imitation of Kit-Kat.
A filling snack for the short flight
Trash was cleared about 10 minutes later, at which point visited the lavatory. It was was tidy but lacking in running water. I spent the remainder of the flight taking shots of landscapes below. The crew remained attentive throughout the flight, asking passengers repeatedly if they wanted anything else to drink/eat.
Pockets of agriculture
Patches of greenery
Before I knew it, we began our descent into MXV, which is the quintessential Mongolian provincial airport. The flight attendants went around one last time, offering a selection of hard sweets.
MIAT From Mongolia, joined Jun 2013, 13 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 10445 times:
Painting of Lake Khuvsgul at airport
Painting of MIAT 732. Interestingly, MIAT never operated the type.
View of the airport from the entrance
After collecting my bags, I met my local driver and we headed off to Lake Khuvsgul, which is about a 3 hours drive from the airport. I stayed at a tourist ger camp and I had an amazing time.
Majestic Lake Khuvsgul
The crystal clear water
The nearby "beach"
A reindeer of local Tsaatan people
Mongolian country life
Overall, I really enjoyed my flight with Aero Mongolia and it was a far cry from the flights I have taken in the US and even in other parts of Asia. I hope you all enjoyed my first trip report, and I look forward to hearing your comments.
JAGflyer From Canada, joined Aug 2004, 3630 posts, RR: 3
Reply 3, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 10152 times:
Cool report on a rare airline! Mongolia has always fascinated me due to the culture/ethnicity. People look Asiatic (asian features/faces) however they have a Russian influence due to their geographic location. They are like a Chinese/Russian hybrid group...
[Edited 2013-10-11 18:14:09]
Support the beer and soda can industry, recycle old airplanes!
RyanairGuru From Australia, joined Oct 2006, 6025 posts, RR: 6
Reply 6, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 9110 times:
My goodness, thank you for this great trip report!
This is both an airline and a country that I know very little about, so thankyou for sharing this. Aero Mongolia look like a great little airline for short flights, definitely superior to what's on offer in North America, and your destination photos are really pretty.
gabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3438 posts, RR: 12
Reply 9, posted (1 year 4 months 2 weeks 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 7995 times:
Great report! Great effort for your first report! I don't think i've seen one covering Mongolia yet. Some of my old colleagues used to work in Mongolia (I was working in China), and they always said it was beautiful - your pictures confirm this - I'd love to go someday!
MIAT From Mongolia, joined Jun 2013, 13 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (1 year 4 months 1 week 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 6634 times:
Thank you everyone for your feedback! Sorry for the late response. I just wanted to respond to some of your comments and questions.
Quoting JAGflyer (Reply 3): They are like a Chinese/Russian hybrid group...
Not by any means. Mongolia may be a buffer nation between Russia and China, but Mongol culture is far from a fusion of Russian and Chinese cultural elements. I should point out that the term "Mongolian" represents a nationality, whereas "Mongol" represents an ethnic identity. The Mongol people do not live exclusively in Mongolia; there are large populations in both China and Russia.
Quoting CdnCactus (Reply 4): The cattle almost got a bit of a yak look to it, no?
Haha it's probably a hybrid. Yaks are common in many parts of Mongolia.
Yea, I am personally very excited. The new airport is being financed by a low-interest long-term loan from the Japanese government and its construction is being carried out by a joint venture between Mitsubishi Construction and Chiyoda Corporation. There are some interesting renderings available online. My only gripe about the project is that only 5 or 6 jetway-equipped gates are planned for the initial phase, and I don't think that's enough to cope with Mongolian's rapidly growing aviation industry.
The Kuwaiti royal family is very interested in falconry, and they've been coming every summer for at least the past ~6 years to take part in the sport and procure trained falcons for their use back home. Moreover, the Mongolian people who specialize in falconry are primarily of Kazah ethnicity, and they are sunni-Muslim, the same denomination as the Kuwaiti royal family. As a result, the Kuwaitis have been pouring a lot of money into developing Bayan Olgii, the part of Mongolia where most Mongolian Kazakhs live.
Quoting eastafspot (Reply 10): It isn't that often that we a.netters get to see a Aero Mongolia TR!
Merci beaucoup! J’ai entendu parler que MIAT lancera un nouveau service à Paris l’été prochain.
CARST From Germany, joined Jul 2006, 850 posts, RR: 2
Reply 14, posted (1 year 4 months 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 5240 times:
What an amazing report! Everything seems so untouched over there in Mogolia, what a landscape! Interesting airplanes, too, on different airlines. I wonder why not more a.nutters post reports about that place?! Just another dot on my to-do-map!
Good quality photos, too, what I like very much, keep posting these reports MIAT!
stipica From Croatia, joined Feb 2011, 427 posts, RR: 8
Reply 15, posted (1 year 3 months 3 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 4697 times:
Hi MIAT !
Quoting MIAT (Thread starter): Having read countless trip reports, I am excited to finally bring you one of my own
speechless and it is very rare that I am in that status hehehe ... this is a pure Pearl for opening career ... what I love about A.net that somebody always put focus on something new and different ...
thank you and congratulations stipica