Home' Asian Aviation : AAV July-Aug 2014 Contents 44 AsianAviation | JULY-AUG 2014
Despite the present political crisis Thailand
is maximizing its geographical position at
the heart of the ASEAN region to become
a full-service aircraft MRO hub and build
up its spare parts industry.
This is being aided by the ASEAN Economic
Community (AEC) that envisages closer economic
integration by 2015.
Boeing estimates Asia-Pacific airlines will need an
additional 12,820 airplanes valued at US$1.9 trillion
over the next 20 years. "Over the next 20 years,
nearly half of the world's air traffic growth will be
driven by travel to, from, or within the region. The Asia
Pacific fleet will nearly triple, from 5,090 airplanes in
2012 to 14,750 airplanes in 2032, to support the
increased demand," predicts Boeing.
Thailand is hoping its aerospace industry can tap
into this. At Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International
Airport, where the second phase of 1.4 billion euros
extension (increasing capacity from 45 million to 60
million) is due to be completed by 2017, a duty-free
zone connects warehouses directly to the cargo
While Singapore is clearly viewed as its model,
Thailand is tapping Tier 2 and 3 manufacturers for
aircraft parts even as it works on its ambition to move
up the value chain. "We realize infrastructure is a must"
said Aarjin Pattanapanchai, deputy secretary general,
BOI (Board of Investment of Thailand), but she sees
scope to feed the likes of Singapore with low level parts
manufacturing. Plans for development of an aerospace
industrial park are in the pipeline, she added.
Thailand has the infrastructure in place for repair
services, including overhaul of aircraft engines, and is
already a major hub for the electronics and electrical
appliance industry, which opens opportunities for
cluster development of avionics and communications
MRO companies include Thai Airways International,
SAMTHAI Scandinavian Aircraft Maintenance, Thai
Aviation Industries (TAI), Triumph Aviation Services
Asia and Airbus Helicopters.
Thai Airways position is understated, given that it
has 30 repair stations and a 190,400m2 facility at
Suvarnabhumi airport alone including 24,300m2 of
hangar space that can simultaneously accommodate
three extra wide body aircraft such as the Airbus
A380. Capabilities include technical support for
narrow bodies too, landing gear change, wheel and
brake workshop, A and C checks for A380 and line
HAECO ITM has signed an agreement with Thai
for some specific aircraft components to be repaired
at Thai Airway's technical facilities at Don Mueang
Airport in Bangkok. HAECO said it would, as a result,
optimize repair costs and cycle times to offer better
material availability through its pool inventory in Hong
Kong. Thai's maintenance centre at Don Mueang
Airport has experience with structural, hydro-
mechanical, engine, instrument, radio, electronics
and avionics overhaul for all Airbus A300-600, A310,
A330 and Boeing 737, 747, 777 series.
The total area of 170,000m2 includes five Hangars
(six Bays) of 747 size with full support system for wide
body aircraft. At U-Tapao International Airport, 125
km southeast of Bangkok, heavy maintenance checks
can be carried out on three aircraft simultaneously.
SAMTHAI, in a joint venture with TAI, has an
MRO & Centre of Excellence in the Bangkok area.
SAMTHAI, along with Geven, supplies and installs
new seating for Thai Airways aircraft.
Thailand is one of three industrial facilities in the
world for Michelin Aircraft Tires. The company has
been in Thailand for the past eleven years, and
will see more investment, president Frank Moreau
explained. The company exports a majority of the
tyres it produces in Thailand. "Infrastructure is the
key, because access to ports is easy for us to reach
Southeast and sourcing of rubber is an advantage."
The BOI, responsible for encouraging investment
for Thai and foreign investors, has a host of corporate
tax holidays and other incentives. By identifying
aerospace as one of its focus areas for promotion, it
has set the ball rolling.
BOI is supported by a recent Asian Development
Bank report that notes Thailand is the world's
18th and Asia's third best place to do business in.
Though the present military coup in the country has
slowed down investments, ADB said in its report,
its fundamentals remained strong with 'low inflation
and external debt and a strong manufacturing
base." Import duty exemption on machinery and
raw materials, double tax allowance for utility bills,
permission for foreign companies to own land as
long as they continue business, 100% repatriation
of money, are just some of the benefits on offer.
Thailand has built up its automobile industry
to become the world's ninth largest. "(As in
automobiles), we want to promote transfer of
technology in aerospace," said Pattanapanchai.
She did acknowledge that Thailand's political turmoil
over the last six months has caused a backlog of
roughly 200 foreign investment projects worth over
Thailand seeks greater aerospace role
Thailand is set to beef up its aerospace industry, writes Neelam Mathews
Thai Airways MRO in Suvarnabhumi
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