Airbus and Thai Airways International will set up a new airframe MRO joint venture at U-Tapao International Airport in Eastern Thailand.
Located around 140km from Bangkok in the Bang Chang District of the Rayong Province, U-Tapao will be home to a facility offering heavy maintenance and line services for all widebody aircraft types including those of rival Boeing.
The MRO complex at the Thai government-led Eastern Economic Corridor will have specialized repair shops, including for composite structure along with investments in digital technologies for aircraft maintenance data analysis and advanced inspection techniques including the use of drones to monitor airframes.
The site will also have a maintenance training center offering courses for technical staff from Thailand and overseas, Airbus confirmed in a statement released on June 22.
The firm agreement, signed by executives from both parties at Airbus’ Toulouse headquarters, follows the penning of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in March 2017 aiming to explore establishing a joint MRO facility. The MOU was followed up by a cooperation agreement in December 2017.
Thai Airways, which runs a Thai Technical maintenance division, operates 33 Airbus aircraft in its 82-strong fleet including 15 A330-300s, 12 A350-900s and six A380-800s.
Usanee Sangsingkeo, acting president at Thai, said the carrier and Airbus have undertaken “extensive studies” to validate the project business plan.
“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”, he said
Guillaume Faury, president Airbus Commercial Aircraft, said the Asia-Pacific region has potential for maintenance and repair opportunities due to the anticipated expansion of the area’s fleet. Aviation Week Fleet & Forecast data estimates this will be at a 6.1% year-on-year compound annual growth rate from 2018 through 2027.
“With the fleet of widebody aircraft in the Asia-Pacific region set to triple to around 4,800 aircraft over the next 20 years, the project represents a sound business opportunity for both our companies,” Faury said.