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U-Tapao airport to begin MRO operations in 2022

The U-Tapao Airport Authority has shared its plans for the upcoming MRO facility at the airport, reiterating its confidence in turning U-Tapao into an MRO powerhouse for Southeast Asia.

Deputy director Sommuk Keawmaruang tells FlightGlobal that MRO operations are scheduled to begin from 2022 and that the site will at first comprise of a single hangar capable of accommodating three widebodies and four narrowbodies.

In the first five years of operations, the facility will be used solely by Thai Airways' MRO arm, Thai Technical, in partnership with Airbus. Thereafter, the authority will look to construct a second hangar within the site for third-party MRO work.

Keawmaruang says discussions with the AirAsia Group are underway, and that the group could set up an MRO operations at U-Tapao around 2027.

A source had previously said that AirAsia has plans for a dedicated MRO unit in Thailand to initially serve its core Malaysian airline, Thai AirAsia, as well as long-haul units AirAsia X and Thai AirAsia X. Around 90% of the firm's work is expected to come from AirAsia Group, with the remainder to be from third-party clients.

"Feasibility studies are being done to see where we can build another hangar, but there is definitely space," Keawmaruang says. "The location at U-Tapao is accessible for many airlines and we can expect up to Bt1 trillion ($32 billion) when the facility is operating at maximum capacity."

Keawmaruang adds that Thailand's last major investment into MRO was at Bangkok Don Mueang International in 2009 and that U-Tapao is primed for another round of investment as the country looks to catch up with its rivals Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia in this area.U-Tapao is located in the Eastern province of Rayong, 150km south of Suvarnabhumi International airport in Bangkok.

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