By Will Lee
Mongolia’s New Airport Has Launched
Although the pandemic is far from over and the demand of the international travel remains weak, Chinggis Khaan International Airport, the brand-new airport in the capital city of Mongolia, started its operation on July 4. Mongolian Airlines flight OM 501, a Boeing 737-800 flight from Ulaanbaatar to Tokyo’s Narita Airport, has become the airport’s maiden flight.
“We hope that the new airport, which has the capacity to handle three million passengers a year, will benefit Mongolia’s social, economic and tourist development,” Mongolian President Ukhnna Khurelsukh said at the opening ceremony. All international and domestic commercial flights will start using the new airport.
Japan’s four conglomerates, including Narita International Airport Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation, Japan Airport Terminal Co. Ltd. and JALUX Inc have teamed up to build the new airport.
According to Japan’s Narita Airport, the airport will be operated by New Ulaanbaatar International Airport LLC (NUBIA) for 15 years. NUBIA is consisted of two companies: Japan Airport Management LLC, owned by four Japanese conglomerates, and will hold 51% of the company, while Khushigiln Khundii Airport, funded by the Government of Mongolia, owns a 49% stake.
The Mongolian government believed Japanese’s experience and new technology could pave the way for the airport’s success and contribute to the sustainable development of Mongolia’s economy and society. NUBIA has planned to expand Chinggis Khaan’s route map in the future and develop its terminal facilities, let the airport becomes profitable.
The new airport is located at 50km southwest of Ulaanbaatar and covers 54,000 square meters. It owns a 3,600 meter-long runway and six boarding gates, of which five are international gates and one is domestic.
According to Reuters, Mongolia is trying to become an air freight hub for northern Asia and develop its aviation and tourism industries, as the country used to depend on coal and copper mining. The International Monetary Fund demanded Mongolia diversify away from mining.
The new airport was expected to be launched in 2020, but the pandemic caused the delay of its operation. Although the pandemic has made a huge impact on travel industry, travel and cargo demand were forecasted to increase in the long term. The airport is believed to play a key role in the economic growth in the future.
Buyant Ukhaa Airport, the former airport in Ulaanbaatar, handled 1.61 million passengers in 2019 – that included 1.2 million for international routes and 410,000 for domestic routes. All assets in Buyant Ukhaa airport have been moved to the new airport. Chinggis Khaan is going to replace the old airport entirely.
Although Buyant Ukhaa was close to the downtown, its location was near a mountain range; this geography could lead flight disruptions and cancellations.