Thai Airways’ MRO arm, Thai Technical, hopes to incorporate its U-Tapao-based joint venture MRO with Airbus by the first quarter of 2020, for launch in 2022.
Speaking to FlightGlobal, Thai Technical’s director of MRO strategy and business development Wilarp Thonglaxsanawong adds that feasibility studies with Airbus are "around 80% complete” and that the joint venture agreement is expected to be signed by December.
Thonglaxsanawong’s comments follow a cooperation agreement in December 2017 between Thai Airways International and Airbus to explore MRO business opportunities at U-Tapao airport, after signing a memorandum of understanding in March 2017.
He adds that in 2021, Thai Technical will apply for certifications with the United States Federal Aviation Administration, European Aviation Safety Agency and the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand.
Thonglaxsanawong adds that should Airbus not proceed even after completing the assessments, Thai Technical will go ahead with the new MRO facility at U-Tapao.
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.
Thonglaxsanawong says that Thai Technical’s new MRO facility will occupy a land area of 83 acres, and offer various MRO services including line and heavy maintenance. It will also conduct wheel and brake work, as well as engine and component overhauls.
The facility will be able to support various aircraft types including the Airbus A380, A350, A330 and A320, as well as Boeing types such as the 747, 777, 787 and 737.
The U-Tapao Airport Authority has said that the MRO 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.
Thai Technical 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.
“We have land at U-Tapao to cater to the growing aircraft fleet in this region and manpower cost are lower in Thailand as compared to our regional neighbours,” he adds.