Aircraft maintenance business, a foreign-related business, has begun to progress as the government gave a green light on foreign MRO with over 50% foreign shareholding allowing a joint venture between Airbus and Thai Airways to invest in U-Tapao International Airport while the Australian firms took a keen interest at training business opportunity in aviation engineering in Thailand.
The fact that the government giving a green light for foreign shareholding to exceed 50% to operate in Maintenance Repair and Overhaul business or MRO in the Eastern Economics Corridor Development does not only allow Airbus to take on the joint-venture investment with Thai Airways to operate the Maintenance Repair and Overhaul business at U-Tapao Airport but also attracts foreign investments especially on aviation engineering and local aviation personnel development.
Kenneth Mitchell, founder and director of Aerospace Training Services, Australia, mentioned to “Thansettakij” that Thai government’s vision to strategize the aviation industry as a key industry to drive the nation’s economy is a wonderful idea especially the idea of developing U-Tapao Airport to become an MRO hub.
“The spatial development of U-Tapao Airport is an exciting project. I can see the importance of this project to Thai economy and from the perspective of my company, I think we would like to be part of this project. The participation could be as a business partner as our company excels on engineering training organization.”
Mr. Mitchell continued on his discussion and said that the company can partner with a Thai partner that conducts a training or MRO business to assist and develop the skills for the engineering team as well as provide the crew training. “We would like to bring our 20 years of accumulated expertise to Thailand to help the Thai government to reach its goals. We have had the opportunity to discuss with some Thai partners and we look forward to further cooperation.”
Mr. Steve Chiu, the general manager of Ansett Aviation Asia, the service provider of professional aviation training center, said that Thailand is in the direction that the airline industry is growing rapidly due to its strategic location and moreover, its airport infrastructure in Bangkok is exceptional. Mr. Chiu believes that it is a good opportunity for the Australian service providers to utilize the market opportunities.
In addition, he believes that spatial development project for U-Tapao Airport is interesting enough to attract investors because things listed in the development plan are infrastructurally essential. Moreover, what Mr. Chiu paid the attention to was additional information regarding whether the airlines would also be establishing their hubs at this airport.
“For us, as a training provider, we need to have an establishment close to the airport where the airlines base their crews at as we would not want to see the crews travel too far for the training. Therefore, I am particularly interested to discover which airlines are going to conduct their businesses there, how many crews will be operating, what the traffic size it would be. Once we gain the insights, it would be possible to analyze the business possibility as well as the decision of taking part.”
Mr. Chula Sukmanop, the Director of Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT), said that currently, Thailand has the only aircraft maintenance training school. As there is a growing demand for this business, the market has high potential. In the future, CAAT would set out a policy to support the MRO as well as the production of aircraft parts. The policy is currently being reviewed whether it would legislatively change to permit foreigners to hold shares in this business as it would significantly encourage the investment opportunity.