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MIAT Mongolian Airlines Plans Direct Flights To San Francisco

The Mongolian flag carrier has reportedly sent the paperwork needed to legally operate in the U.S., with San Francisco touted as its possible first destination in the country

by Fergus Cole

February 21, 2023

Golden Gate Bridge and downtown San Francisco / Photo: Andrew Zarivny/Shutterstock

MIAT Mongolian Airlines appears to be planning to launch the first-ever nonstop commercial flights between the U.S. and Mongolia after filing an application with the U.S. Department of Transport (DOT).

The national flag carrier of Mongolia has a history stretching back to 1956. Still, it has never operated any flights to the U.S., partly because there is little consumer demand for travel between the two countries.

However, MIAT Mongolian has been eyeing a direct connection to the U.S. for years and is reportedly submitting the required paperwork to U.S. authorities. But instead of commercial opportunity, the desire for the connection seems to have been driven by geopolitics, with Mongolia being a key strategic partner of the U.S. surrounded by both China and Russia.

A tweet by airline news and route development analysis firm Ishrion Aviation earlier this week suggested that MIAT Mongolian Airlines is considering opening a new route to the U.S., specifically to the West Coast, and using its long-range Boeing 787-9.

“MIAT Mongolian Airlines appears to be preparing to commence flights to the United States,” Ishrion Aviation tweeted on February 8. “These flights will likely operate from Ulaanbaatar (UBN) using its new Boeing 787-9 aircraft. Destinations such as the U.S. West Coast (Los Angeles) have been hinted at in recent years.”

A tweet on February 16 suggested that Ishrion Aviation had learned of further details of MIAT Mongolian’s plans and that its first destination in the U.S. would likely be San Francisco (SFO).

“MIAT Mongolian Airlines plans to launch flights from Ulaanbaatar (UBN) to San Francisco,” read the tweet. “MIAT will also acquire a second Boeing 787 in the first quarter of 2024. Mongolia will first need to receive a Category 1 rating from the FAA before MIAT can launch U.S. flights.”

If the airline gets approval to operate in the U.S., it would be the first-ever commercial flight between Mongolia and the United States. The only other flight in history to connect the two countries was a cargo flight operated by MIAT in 2020, which was used to deliver PPE supplies to the indigenous Navajo Nation community.

MIAT Mongolian Airlines currently has a fleet of just six aircraft, only one of which is a Boeing 787 capable of traveling the 6,000+ mile journey to San Francisco. However, the carrier currently flies to nine international destinations: Frankfurt (FRA), Istanbul (IST), Phuket (HKT), Bangkok (BKK), Tokyo (NRT), Hong Kong (HKG), Busan (PUS), Seoul (ICN), and Beijing (PEK).

While demand for flights to Mongolia may be small, travelers interested in visiting will find an intriguing, off-the-beaten-track destination with a fascinating culture filled with ancient traditions and huge stretches of wilderness ideal for nature lovers. However, you’d be wise to pack a winter coat. Ulaanbaatar is notoriously known as the world’s coldest capital city, with temperatures dropping to -20°F in certain months.