Utapao to become Thai Airways maintenance centre


Utapao to become Thai Airways maintenance centre

Thai Airways International has announced its plans to construct an aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul centre at Utapao airport, in Rayong province, with the focus on large-sized aircraft.

The board of Thai International has allocated 30 million baht to hire consultants, although it has proposed a special method be adopted for selecting the consultants for the project instead of a conventional bidding method.

The project needs consultants in four areas of expertise, 1. aircraft maintenance and repair business 2. financial knowledge 3. International law and other concerned laws, and 4. project management.

The government plans to boost airport capacity and turn Utapao into the country’s third main international airport behind Suvarnabhumi and Don Muang airports.

By creating this maintenance centre it will help fulfill the government plan to turn Thailand into a regional hub for aircraft maintenance and repairs for Asia and Asean.

The money requested by the Thai International board will fund the hiring of the consultants to supervise a feasibility study of the aircraft maintenance centre project.

This not be like a previous study undertaken by the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning, which was focused on small aircraft maintenance, Thai Airways International has shifted to modern, large-sized aircraft models such as the Airbus A380, Airbus A350, Boeing 787 and Boeing 777.

More than 300 Airbus A380s have been already ordered worldwide of which about 200 are in the Middle East, which already has a good capacity for maintenance and repair. The remainder is the target for the Utapao maintenance centre.

The time frame envisaged for the consultants to complete their deliberations and the feasibility study is 18 months, but the Thai Airways board has suggested this is far too long and they want it to be reduced to make it more compatible with the government’s Eastern Economic Corridor Development plan.

Thai Airways aims to finish drafting a framework for the project by the end of September while the detailed plan is expected by around March 2017.

As this project requires investment, a joint investment plan also needs to be studied, drafted and submitted along with the main project plan to the State Enterprise Policy Office and the state committee overseeing Public Private Partnership (PPP) policy for approval.

The national airline considers Airbus and Boeing as potential joint investors in the project, while the project’s partners will be companies which currently own both planes.

Thai Airways is currently preparing to start talks with five airline operators regarding the possibility of forming a network for the Utapao aircraft maintenance centre’s business.

The centre will also be useful in helping to supplement Thai Airways International income during the low season for air travel.