MIAT Mongolian Airlines is considering replacing its Airbus A310 and Boeing 737-800 with two Boeing 757s in the next phase of its restructuring, which could result in privatisation next year.

Commercial director Sean Canning says MIAT needs to simplify its fleet before the restructuring - which so far has resulted in cost reductions of more than 20% and a forecasted 2004 profit of $2.5 million - is completed.

"One of the problems we have is the fleet," says Canning. "We really think we need rationalisation."

A study commissioned by MIAT to determine which aircraft type could meet both its long-haul and short-haul requirements favours the 757.

Unlike the 737-700/800 or Airbus A320, the 757 has the range to serve Moscow non-stop without payload restrictions and is the right size for most MIAT routes.

MIAT now operates its single 214-seat A310 to Berlin via Moscow and one 162-seat 737-800 on routes within Asia. Three Antonov An-24s are operated domestically, but two will be retired by the end of this year and the third in 2005.

The carrier is studying possible replacements - the ATR 42, Bombardier Dash 8, and Fokker 50, as well as the Antonov An-140 - but another option is for it to leave the domestic market altogether.

Privately owned Aero Mongolia, which is doubling its fleet from two to four Fokker 50s this summer, expects to become the country's only domestic operator.

Canning says MIAT's financial outlook would improve even further if the government allowed it to drop its unprofitable domestic business. Canning is one of four ex-Aer Lingus executives who has been running MIAT since last year as part of a contract awarded to Irish firm Air Consult International.

The company is tasked with preparing the carrier for privatisation, but it will be up to the government to carry out this plan and find a buyer by next March.



Source: Flight International