Airbus sees enormous potential in Thailand

The sky is the limit for Thailand’s aviation sector, according to European aircraft manufacturer Airbus, which said it sees enormous potential in Thai aerospace. The company’s praise for the Kingdom came during the same week it announced it would reduce manufacturing in the United Kingdom because of uncertainties over Brexit.

Airbus said it is now looking to Thailand to conduct more maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) of its aircraft. The company is co-investing with THAI Airways to build a cutting-edge, state-of-the-art MRO center adjacent to U-Tapao International Airport in the Eastern Economic Corridor advanced development zone.

“This will be a major new facility that reflects our confidence in Thailand. We will incorporate the latest digital technologies, specialized repair shops, and a maintenance training center,” said Airbus head of marketing for Asia and North America, Joost van der Heijden. “For Airbus, our MoU with THAI is about the opportunity to innovate and to lead the way in the aerospace sector.”

Thailand has stiff competition in the region in the MRO industry, but still has strong ambitions to eventually become the regional leader in the field as the aviation industry grows. Thai political and business leaders have a consensus view that aviation and MRO hold great potential for the country.

“While other ASEAN members including Singapore have been in the MRO market for a long time, there is still room for Thailand due to its strong automobile and electronics manufacturing base,” said says Cedric Post, the French Aerospace Industry Association’s deputy director for European and international affairs.

He noted that Singapore has limited land to expand its facilities and its prices are high, while land in the EEC is plentiful and Thailand is cost-efficient. Those are important considerations as the number of aircraft owned by airlines in Asia, and the number of aircraft servicing Asia is forecast to increase dramatically in the coming years.

“The in-service fleets in the Asia Pacific region will grow in size from 6,900 aircraft to over 20,000 in the next 20 years,” he said.

The MRO facility will train thousands of Thai workers in highly skilled jobs, helping to accelerate and deepen the Kingdom’s transformation to a higher-technology economy.

Van der Heijden said the MRO center would be one of the most modern and extensive in the region.