Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mongolian PM discusses food shortage with the Russians and other issues

Wonderful stuff.
Mongolia cannot expect Russian fiscal altruism to continue indefinitely. Despite the wheat subsidies, Moscow is gradually increasing prices on a number of other Russian imports. The Mongolian media has reported that the country’s civil aviation industry, like its Western counterparts, is facing disruptions due to soaring fuel costs. Mongolian airlines imports its fuel from Russia, which has drastically increased the price of its aviation fuel exports from $137 to $225 per ton over the last six months (Өдрийн Сонин, April 21).

Read more of this article from Eurasia Daily Monitor
Wheat subsidies in Mongolia. In Singapore and the rest of Southeast Asia, people are hoarding rice, anticipating rice shortage due to god-knows-what. Doesn't personally affect yours truly, as I've given up rice three months ago, and have ever since enjoyed a somewhat less bloated composition. I suppose it depends on how your metabolism is structured. Most regular rice-eaters eat 3 times more rice than I used to, and still remain stick thin.

In any case, the funny thing about the current rice shortage in Singapore supermarkets is that it is caused by people hoarding rice in anticipation of rice shortage.

I digress. What the rising fuel costs in Mongolia mean, to me, is the rising cost of flying in and out of Mongolia. It's expensive enough to fly from Beijing to Ulaanbaatar, a mere 90-min flight that could cost more than 400USD on Air China, which is why I go through the hassle of booking an Air China ticket to Beijing and buying a MIAT ticket to Ulaanbaatar. MIAT, or Mongolian Airlines, ticket costs around 260USD one-way, or 360USD, last I checked. Still a bit expensive for those used to budget airlines that charge 5USD per ticket excluding taxes. Bloody good ruse too, these budget carriers, putting up tickets from Singapore to most SE-Asian cities for 5USD a pop. You will end up paying around 200 Singapore dollars anyway, once the taxes all add up. But it works psychologically. Save a few bucks, enough to get you from the airport to your budget hotel or the hostel.

I don't know why none of the larger companies in Mongolia have come up with a budget carrier. Perhaps the Mongolian government is reluctant to give out licenses to new carriers. At the moment, there are only 3-4 carriers flying in and out of Mongolia. MIAT, Korean Air, Air China and Aeroflot. I don't know if JAL is involved with the summer flights to Osaka or if it's just MIAT flights.