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Thai, Airbus to move ahead with MRO joint venture

Thai Airways International and Airbus will establish a new joint venture MRO facility at U-Tapao International airport near Bangkok.

This follows a memorandum of understanding signed in March 2017 and a cooperation agreement signed in December 2017 between the two parties to explore the setting up of such a facility.

The facility will offer heavy maintenance and line services for all widebody aircraft types, including Boeing aircraft. The complex will also have repair shops for composite structures, as well as a training centre.

“Thai and Airbus have undertaken extensive studies to validate the business plan for this exciting project,” says Usanee Sangsingkeo, acting president of Thai Airways International. “We are confident that this venture will bring significant economic benefit for Thai and will be a major driver in the development of the wider aerospace sector in Thailand.”

Airbus says it is confident on the joint venture's commercial potential, but did not disclose the shareholding breakdown of the new company, nor the level of investment.

Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that Thai operates a fleet of 82 aircraft, including 12 A350-900s, six A380-800s, 15 A330-300s, nine 747-400s, 32 777s and seven 787s.

Thai Airways’ MRO arm, Thai Technical, previously told FlightGlobal that it hopes to incorporate the MRO joint venture by the first quarter of 2020, for launch in 2022 - a timeline echoed by Airbus.

Thai Technical’s director of MRO strategy and business development Wilarp Thonglaxsanawong said that the company forecasts that the facility can generate $86 million annually after 10 years, and $629 million annually by 2072, a half century after operations begin. In addition, Thai Technical hopes to capture “at least 20%” of Southeast Asia’s MRO market.

Located 140km south of Bangkok in the eastern province of Rayong, U-Tapao airport has been earmarked by the Thai government as a capacity reliever for the capital’s Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports.

Although Airbus did not specify the facility's hangar space, the U-Tapao Airport Authority previously said that the site will initially have a single hangar capable of accommodating three widebodies and four narrowbodies, with Thai Technical as the sole operator in the first five years of operations. Thereafter, the authority will look to construct a second hangar for third-party MRO work.

Low-cost giant AirAsia has also expressed interest in setting up their own MRO facility at U-Tapao.

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