According to Bloomberg today, Thailand is seeking to take on Singapore’s dominance in aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul or MRO with a $5.7 billion upgrade of a Vietnam War-era airport.
In February this year, Thailand’s Transport Ministry unveiled a development plan between 2017 and 2031 split into three phases.
The first phase between now and 2021 will focus on building a new maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) center for Thai Airways.
The second phase focuses on the continued expansion of that MRO center through 2026, and the third phase will focus on expanding Thailand’s aviation design and manufacturing capabilities.
Bloomberg said Lockheed Martin Corp.’s Sikorsky Aircraft is the latest company to study a possible increase in MRO spend in Thailand in the wake of the planned revamp of U-Tapao International Airport, quoting Ajarin Pattanapanchai, deputy secretary general of the nation’s Board of Investment.
In March, Airbus SE signed an agreement with Thai Airways International Pcl to evaluate the development of MRO facilities at the civil-military airport near Bangkok.
The Thai authorities are said to be confident in its move since Singapore’s MRO is seen as tight, leaving Thailand with an open field to catch up with the demand of airlines in the region.
They are looking into Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia as potential market sources.
Thailand’s existing strength in automotive and engineering is also hailed as a positive point.
But the authorities said Thailand will be the second choice to be the MRO hub.
Thailand is currently trying to raise funds in Canada for the project.