Asiana Airlines kicks off flights to Mongolian capital

By Kim Da-sol
  • Published : Jul 10, 2019 - 15:18
  • Updated : Jul 10, 2019 - 15:18

South Korea’s second-largest full-service carrier Asiana Airlines said Wednesday it has newly added a flight route to Ulaanbaatar from Tuesday -- a lucrative route monopolized by Korean Air for almost three decades. 

Asiana Airlines CEO Han Chang-soo (fourth from left) and employees pose for a photo after opening the Incheon to Ulaanbaatar route at Incheon Airport on Tuesday. (Asiana Airlines)

In February, the Transport Ministry gave Asiana approval to fly the highly sought-after route linking South Korea and Mongolia. The Incheon to Ulaanbaatar route is being operated with Airbus A330-300 aircraft, which can seat 290 passengers. 

Flights on the route will operate three times a week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, departing from Incheon Airport at 9:05 p.m. on weekdays and at 8:45 p.m. on Saturdays. 

According to the ministry, some 330,000 people traveled between Incheon and Ulaanbaatar last year, with the number rising 11 percent on average every year. 

Before the country’s airline traffic review committee distributed slots to Asiana Airlines, the route had been exclusively operated by Korean Air and its Mongolian counterpart, MIAT Mongolian Airlines, since 1991, when the two countries signed an aviation agreement. The agreement allowed only one carrier from each country to provide air travel services. 

In January, the South Korean and Mongolian governments renewed the agreement, after persistent complaints that monopolization by two carriers allowed tickets to be sold at high prices during the peak season. Airfare had often soared to over 1 million won ($845), double the price of tickets to other destinations with similar flight hours. 

By Kim Da-sol (