In December 2018 Thailand approved a draft bill for the air navigation law that lets foreign investors who win Board of Investment (BoI) promotional privileges to own up to 100% of shares. Aircraft manufacturing, aircraft parts manufacturing, and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) for aircraft, are three areas where Thailand will allow 100% foreign ownership. So far, the Air Navigation Act of 1954 requires Thai companies to hold a 51% share in the three categories.
The move aims to attract foreign investors to the aviation industry, which is one of the targeted industries the government is promoting for its flagship Eastern Economic Corridor project.
Currently, the Royal Thai Navy is in the process of opening bids for the first phase of the U-tapao aviation city project. The first phase covers 6,500 rai (10.4 sq km) and includes the third terminal, a second runway, a commercial gateway, the second phase of the MRO hub, a cargo village or free-trade zone, and a human resources training centre. The aviation city is expected to be able to accommodate 60 million passengers annually, putting it on a par with Suvarnabhumi, and to yield economic returns worth THB 189 billion (USD 6 billion) every year.
(Source: Aviation Pros)
A leading British security and defense company, Arturius International, will build a Counter Threat Centre of Excellence (COE) in Thailand in cooperation with Defence Technology Institute (DTI), a Thai state organization. DTI and Arturius plans to collaborate in order to evaluate and assess the threat landscape faced in the country, as well as developing policies and evaluating the optimal training and technology needs.
The COE will bring together counter-terror, counter improvised explosive device and counter unmanned aerial systems facilities to develop understanding and resistance strategies in collaboration with military partners and academic institutions. It will help conduct research and development into emerging counter threat technologies and provide advanced training and equipment instruction to Thai security personnel. It will also support the development and implementation of new policies, concepts, strategies and doctrines.
(Sources: www.army-technology.com; Defence iq)
Thailand is planning to invest USD 4.26 million in order to expand airports in the greater Bangkok area. The move is seen as part of a strategy aimed at rivalling Singapore as Southeast Asia’s main aviation hub. Over the last few decades, the country has witnessed a steep rise in the number of tourists, but its airports have been unable to cope with overstretched capacity.
For example, the Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok has a capacity of 45 million passengers, but handles 60 million, resulting in poorer service quality, long immigration lines and deteriorating infrastructure. The airport is now planned to add a second satellite terminal, a third terminal and a fourth runway to bring its capacity to 150 million passengers per year in its fourth and fifth expansion phases from 2021 to 2030. The airport is currently in the second phase of expansion expected to be completed in 2020 raising the capacity to 60 million passengers per year. A further THB 64 billion (USD 2 billion) has been allotted for the third phase of expansion to bring up the capacity to 90 million passengers.
There are also plans to expand the U-Tapao airport, a former military air base 100km southeast of Bangkok. Currently, U-Tapao handles just 300,000 charter passengers a year, but the the airport is planned handling 60 million people once it will be expanded over the next 20 years.
(Sources: Global Construction Review; Channel News Asia)
Thai Airways International has initiated a R&D collaboration with British company Rolls-Royce for the Trent XWB engine. The Trent XWB Development Testing partnership will take place over a two-year period at Don Mueang airport. The project, which is the first first overseas engine research and development testing for Rolls-Royce outside the United Kingdom, is expected to further strengthen Thailand's aviation industry.
The collaboration encompasses manufacturing; maintenance, repair and operations (MRO); and development testing. The initial objective is to conduct R&D on the engine which powers the Airbus A350-1000 aircraft that was launched at the beginning of 2018. In 2020, THAI Airways and Rolls-Royce will cooperate on Trent 700 engine maintenance and overhaul, making THAI's facility a certified and authorised engine maintenance centre for Rolls-Royce. Becoming an Authorised Maintenance Centre (AMC) for Rolls-Royce will enable THAI to support their growing fleet of Rolls-Royce engines while also generating additional capacity and flexibility within the Rolls-Royce CareNetwork. THAI operates around 80 widebody aircraft, of which more than 50 are powered by Rolls-Royce engines.
Rolls Royce entered the Thai market over 50 years ago and today Rolls-Royce invests about USD100 million a year to support the manufacturing supply chain footprint in Thailand.
(Source: Bangkok Post; Rolls Royce)
Israeli company Aeronautics Ltd has recently secured a contract to supply Dominator unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to the Thai Ministry of Defense. The contract also includes land equipment and accompanying services over three years. The volume of the deal is at USD 27 million over three years.
The Dominator is capable of carrying up to 1,900 kilograms in special payloads simultaneously and can stay airborne for 20 hours. Aeronautics said that the Thai Ministry of Defense was one of its veteran customers and that the Thai army had been using the company's UAVs for the past decade.
According to the company website, the Dominator can carry a vast range of payloads, including EO/IR (electro-optical and infrared) and hyper-spectral sensors with laser pointer and designator, maritime radar, SAR\GMTI (Synthetic Aperture Radar and Ground Moving Target Indicator) radars, communications relays, COMINT (communications intelligence), ELINT (electronic intelligence), MAD (Magnetic anomaly detector) and additional sensors.
(Sources: defenseworld.net; AviationPros)
Airbus and Thai Airways International (THAI) are set to commence a multi-billion-baht maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) project for jetliners at the U-Tapao international airport following the signing of a joint venture agreement between the two organisations presided over by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
As planned, the MRO centre will be based at U-Tapao airport, 150 km to the south east of Bangkok and at the heart of Thailand’s eastern economic corridor (EEC). The EEC is a core part of the Thai government’s Thailand 4.0 policy, designed to develop world class innovative technology-based manufacturing and services in the country.
The facility will offer heavy maintenance and line services for all widebody aircraft types, including Boeing aircraft. The complex will also have repair shops for composite structures, as well as a training centre. This facility will be one of the most modern and one of the largest in Asia-Pacific. It will have the latest digital technologies to analyse aircraft maintenance data, along with advanced inspection techniques, including the use of drones to monitor aircraft airframes.
According to the Thai Prime Minister, the new U-Tapao maintenance complex could be operational from 2022.
(Sources: MRO Business Today)
Thailand has approved the construction of second airports in Chiang Mai and Phuket with a combined planned investment of USD 3.6 billion.
Construction is expected to begin in 2019, and it is expected to be completed by 2025. Each new airport will accommodate about 10 million passengers a year. The aim of the projects is to cater to the rising number of visitors to these destinations and ease overcrowding at the existing airports.
The sites for both of the new airports will be around 20-30 km away from the existing airports. Ban Thi district in Lamphun province has been selected as the site for Chiang Mai's second airport, and the second Phuket airport will be built in tambon Khok Kloi in Phangna province's Takua Thung district.
“Demand is outpacing supply,” said President of Airport of Thailand (AOT) Nitinai Sirismatthakarn, adding that AOT increased capacity to 101 million in its 2017 fiscal year, whereas passengers’ numbers reached 129 million. “We expect 10 percent passenger growth this fiscal year and continued growth for the next 4-5 years” Nitinai said.
(Sources: Reuters; The Nation; Bangkok Post)
According to a recent report from CAPA - Centre for Aviation (CAPA), Low Cost Carrier (LCC) fleets have been rapidly expanding in recent years. Around 5 years ago, the fleet of LCCs stood at 42 aircraft, including 28 at Thai Airasia and 14 at Nok Air. Since then the fleet size has tripled.
Four LCCs have been launched in Thailand over the past five years and there are now six LCCs operating in the country. Thai AirAsia remains the clear market leader, and it has more than doubled its fleet over five years, from 28 aircraft to 59 aircraft. Thai Lion Air which entered the market in December 2013 with two aircraft, overtook Nok Air recently in terms of both fleet size and seat capacity. It has demonstrated the fastest growth among Thailand’s LCCs, with the addition of 30 aircraft since its launch.
Nok Air also doubled its fleet within three years, till 2016, but it has reduced its fleet size slightly during the past year as it aims to restructure with the aim of returning to profitability.
The percentage contribution of LCCs to domestic seat capacity in Thailand has increased from 50% five years back to around 70%, as the number increased from 11 million to 33 million over the period. The report also highlights that Thailand is now the only country with three long haul LCCs. However, the LCC widebody fleet, with 15 operating aircraft, is small.
As visitor numbers continue to rise in Thailand, LCCs are in a good position to expand in Thailand's international market, which primarily consists of price-sensitive inbound passengers. CAPA expects Thailand’s LCC fleet to exceed 150 aircraft by the end of 2018.
(Source: CAPA - Centre for Aviation)
The Thai government approved a USD 45 billion investment for the country’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), strengthening Thailand’s position as ASEAN’s regional aerospace hub.
The Eastern Economic Corridor bill will finance several projects, including U-Tapao’s future Aeropolis – an entire city infrastructure built around said airport, the construction of a motorway, and a high-speed railway linking the country’s three major airports. Thailand’s aerospace industry is booming, at a rate three times faster than the global market. The EEC Aeropolis, projected to be in place by 2023, will relieve some of the swell of tourists will also include free trade, logistics, and airport industry areas, as well as an airline MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) Center and several other features to ameliorate the anticipated volume of travelers.
Thailand’s MRO expenditure is expected to reach a total of USD 10.6 billion through 2024, and the top five components produced in Thailand (wheels and brakes, APU, IFE components, engine-fuel and control, and landing gear) are forecasted to generate more than USD 1.7 billion through the same time period.
(Source: Thai Visa News; Aviation Pros)
Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, has authorized Thai Aviation Services to operate as the first Sikorsky Customer Support Center in Thailand. The announcement came at the 2018 Helicopter Association International Heli-Expo Trade Show & Exposition. Thai Aviation Services Ltd is a privately-owned Air Operator Certificate holder registered in Thailand. The company acts as an an air operator providing helicopter service for offshore operations to the oil and gas producing companies throughout the region.
This new Customer Support Center comes soon after Thai Aviation Services completed upgrading its fleet following the delivery of five S-76D medium lift helicopters and two S-92 heavy lift helicopters throughout 2016 and 2017. Thai Aviation Services has conducted its offshore operations for oil and gas producing companies for 30 years, utilizing Sikorsky helicopters exclusively. Its fleet now totals eight Sikorsky aircraft, including a Sikorsky S-76C++ helicopter.
Sikorsky’s Customer Support Centers enable quick access to Sikorsky logistics and spare parts inventory for operators while providing advanced service capabilities. This support center will be Sikorsky’s seventh in the Asia-Pacific region and adds to the growing network of 23 Sikorsky support centers worldwide.
Airbus Helicopters and Thai Aviation Industries (TAI) have signed an agreement to support all Airbus' military and law enforcement helicopters in Thailand. Under this agreement, TAI will become the main Airbus Helicopters’ service provider in Thailand for the Royal Thai Armed Forces and Royal Thai Police. Airbus Helicopters’ signature HCare suite of aftersales services, spare parts, tools and training will now be easily availed to the locally-based military and law enforcement operators through TAI.
Through this new milestone agreement, Airbus’ range of helicopter services will now be available in-country. The Royal Thai Armed Forces and Royal Thai Police currently operate a strong fleet of about 40 helicopters, which includes the light single engine H125M, twin engine H145, H145M, UH72, medium twin engine AS365, H155, H175 and heavy tactical H225M. These helicopters are deployed for various missions within the Royal Thai Air Force, Army, Navy, Police and the Survey Department.
National carrier Thai Airways International and European aerospace company Airbus have signed a cooperation agreement to open an aircraft maintenance and repair operations hub in Thailand for THB 11 billion (USD 338 million) aimed at making the country an aviation hub that will provide heavy maintenance, line maintenance and aircraft painting services.
The aviation hub will be set up at Thailand’s U-Tapao Airport and is expected to cater to the growing number of planes flying across South East Asia. According to Airbus, the number of aircrafts operating in the Asia Pacific region is expected to triple from 6,100 to 17,000 in the next 20 years backed by increasing travel demand.
(Sources: The Nation; Nikkei Asian Review)
Mikhail Petukhov, Russia's a deputy director at the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC), has declared that Russia will take part in all tenders announced by Thailand for military equipment purchases. Rosoboronexport, a Russian state-owned arms exporter, is participating in a Thai tender for supplies of attack helicopters, by offering its Kamov Ka-52 and Mi-
Russia is looking to increase its arms exports to South East Asia, and is actively developing defense industry cooperation with Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. In September 2017, it agreed to supply two Mi-17V-5 helicopters to Thailand, and a further deal on supplying a batch of such aircraft may be reached in the near future.
(Sources: SputnikNews; RussianAviation.com)
The future of Thailand’s aviation sector is looking bright after the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) removed its red flag over safety issues. An inspection of the Thai aviation regulatory system was done by ICAO officials in September 2017 and a total of 33 measures that tackled previously expressed safety and other concerns were approved.
The removal of red flag means that Thai-registered airlines are able to expand their overseas services more conveniently and there would be no restrictions on frequency of flights or new routes and services. Moreover, the private sector can apply for new aviation and related licenses from the Thai regulatory agency, which was previously restricted due to the country’s “red-flag” status.
The Thai aviation sector has been growing at an annual rate of 8% over the past few years due to high expansion in the tourism sector and this red flag removal would help to increase the rate of growth. Furthermore, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) Office plans to elevate the country's aviation regulatory standards to meet international criteria used by the ICAO.
(Sources: The Nation; TR Weekly)
The Royal Thai Army is in the process of forming a dedicated procurement committee to choose which helicopters that it may want to acquire to replace its ageing fleet of Bell AH-1F Cobras, of which only two are operational. The committee will outline the scope of the army's requirements, before seeking funding approval from the government. The specifications of new attack helicopters have not as yet been decided, however the models that are currently being considered include the Leonardo (AgustaWestland) AW129 Mangusta, Russia’s Mil Mi-28, China’s CAIC Z-10, the Bell AH-1 SuperCobra or AH-1Z Viper, and Boeing’s AH-64 Apache.
(Source: Jane's 360)
The Thai Government has outlined a commitment to accelerate development of the domestic defense industrial base in 2017. The new focus is expected to have implications for exporters contracted to supply materiel to Thailand through both industry-to-government and government-to-government deals. The country's Ministry of Defense is seeking to expand its collaboration with foreign partners in setting up military industrial facilities in the country. It aims to work with foreign partners to set up facilities to manufacture military hardware and components as part of its ambitious plan to promote development of the defense industry. These facilities would be geared towards manufacturing military products – components and platforms. It would also provide support for existing systems through the provision of maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) services.
(Sources: Jane's 360; Asian Military Review)
Five international flights are expanding air access to Thailand with new flights from Beijing, Doha, Istanbul, Maldives, India’s Jaipur and Tiruchirappalli and Singapore, demonstrating the country’s status as a global aviation hub.
While some scheduled flights are to be added later on, some already started operation during 2017 which includes:
In addition, Tourism Authority of Thailand has signed a series of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with major international airlines aimed at strengthening tourism cooperation and boosting the number of visitor arrivals to Thailand.
(Sources: The Nation; TAT News)
Thailand’s military government has recently approved the budget request for purchase and acquisition of eight T-50 Golden Eagle lead-in fighter trainers from South Korea’s Korea Aerospace Industries, Ltd. (KAI). The T-50 aircraft are set to replace the country’s 40 training and combat Aero Vodochody L-39ZA/ART Albatros air fleet. The deal, which is approximately worth THB 8.8 billion (USD 258 million) and payable in three years, will commence delivery in 2018 with the first four of the T-50 aircraft to be delivered in March.
According to reports, the T-50 aircraft will be fully combat-capable, being fitted with fire control radar—expected to be the Elbit EL/M-2032 – MIL-STD-1760 databus—and will have provision for the Link 16 data link. Thailand has also made previous purchases from other countries for their naval, military and aerial defense needs, such as Black Hawk helicopters and air-to-air missile systems from the USA and submarines from China.
(Sources: DefenseNews; New York Daily News; Reuters)
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between Thai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI) and the Civil Aviation Training Center to establish an aviation and aerospace training center. This training center aims to provide Thailand and the region with aviation personnel development at a national level and to support the Government’s policy on national development. In addition, it will help to develop U-Tapao Airport as the aviation center of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC).
Thailand recently announced a new 15-year aviation industry development plan intended to further develop its aerospace sector and strengthen its position as South East Asia’s next regional aviation and MRO hub. The plan, approved in February 2017 by the Thai Ministry of Transportation, establishes a framework and offers incentives, that will support the growth of aircraft maintenance and spare parts production in Thailand. Aerospace companies investing in Thailand, under the plan, will benefit from a host of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives that range from corporate tax exemptions to assistance with work permits and product sourcing.
(Sources: Thai Airways, Destination Thailand News, Board of Investments)
Having met the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards, Nok Scoot and Thai Air Asia X have been recertified by the Thai Authority and received Air Operators Certificates (AOC). This marks the them as the country’s fourth and fifth local airlines to be granted the AOCs. Despite them being low cost airlines, the AOC certificates demonstrate that their security systems are in place and their services met ICAO standards.
(Sources: ch-aviation, Thai PBS)
Thailand has set a budget of USD 5.7 billion to upgrade its U-Tapao civil-military airport near Bangkok with an aim to improve the airport’s capabilities in aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul in a bid to compete with Singapore who is the dominant in aircraft maintenance.
According to the deputy secretary general of the national’s Board of Investment, it is believed that Thailand could become a second choice to be the MRO hub due to additional demands of airlines in the region namely Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia and Thailand’s existing strengths with automotive and engineering. This airport project is part of the Prime Minister’s plan to boost the Thai economy along with potential investments in high-speed rail, new cities and industry.
(Sources: Channel News Asia, Bloomberg)
The purchase of ten more tanks from China has been approved by the cabinet, showing the strength of Thailand’s relationship with Beijing in the defense realm over the past few years. Their defense ties are also shown through their first-ever joint air-force exercise, planned purchases of equipment such as submarines and tanks, as well as discussions regarding a joint military production facility.
The estimated cost of this batch of tanks is at USD 58 million and it will be the second batch of VT4s ordered by Thailand after the first batch of 28 tanks that was ordered in 2016. The VT4 is a 52-ton main battle tank developed by China specifically for overseas export.
(Sources: The Diplomat, Defense News)
Thai Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha revealed an order for Chinese submarines at his weekly press briefing. This is an end to decades of wait for the Navy as the last submarines that Thailand had were discharged in 1951. The three Chinese submarines ordered are Yuan Class S26T which have been developed exclusively for Thailand based on China’s Yuan Class Type 039 A. The submarines will be nearly 78 meters long and 9 meters wide, equipped with the latest technology AIP (Air Independent Propulsion) system that will allow them to dive consecutively up to 21 days without surfacing. This deal will cost Thailand THB 13.6 billion or USD 392 million. Prayut asserted that the submarines from China are the cheapest with the quality relatively acceptable.
(Sources: Defense News, The Nation)
Thailand has a long existing rule on foreign direct investment (FDI) and the law requires Thai owners to control 51% of aviation companies and shareholders must be individuals, prohibiting investment by investment funds. This old law is considered an obstacle to the development of the Thai aviation industry. Thus, the cabinet had approved a new bill on civil aviation that authorizes the Civil Aviation Board (CAB) to decide the proportion of foreign ownership in aviation business in Thailand.
This change is projected to enhance Thailand aviation industry to become an aviation hub in Southeast Asia and to enhance Thailand’s capacity to become an aircraft maintenance center.
(Sources: Bangkok Post, ASEAN Breaking News)
Thailand and Russia discussed on increasing arms deals and cooperation in defense industry development. Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Deputy Prime Minister, also Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan paid a visit to Moscow last year to strengthen bilateral relationship and discuss joint defense industry development. During this visit, Prayut placed a purchase order for 1- Mil Mi-17 transport helicopters from Russia for a combined price of USD 86 million.
(Sources: China Military, China Daily)
Bridgestone Corporation announced plans to construct two new manufacturing plants in Thailand. One plant will produce new aircraft tires, while the second plant will produce retread aircraft tires. The total investment will be approximately JPY15.0 billion (USD 150 million) and both new plants are scheduled to start production in December 2019. In line with the company’s commitment to the development of a sustainable society, the two facilities cater for reduced CO2 emissions, while also acting as business bases to support its aircraft tire solutions system with new and retread tires. The Bridgestone Group has been operating in Thailand for roughly half a century, and the establishment of new plants in this country is expected to further contribute to its economic and industrial development.
(Sources: World Construction Network, Bridgestone)
The bilateral relationship between China and Thailand is advancing, as evidenced by the growing military cooperation. China and Thailand have also progressed plans to establish a joint defence production facility in the South East Asian country. The proposal features China's development in Thailand of a facility to manufacture Chinese military equipment and spare parts. The facility would also provide maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) support for Chinese materiel in Thailand and regional countries.
Furthermore, Prawit invited China to join Exercise Cobra Gold, a series of military exercises in Thailand that are led by the United States. There are also other joint exercises between China and Thailand known as the Blue Strike program that involves marines from both navies.
(Sources: VOA news, Reuters)
Thailand's Asia Aviation Pcl (AAV.BK), a major shareholder in budget carrier Thai AirAsia, said the airline would take delivery of two new Airbus A320 NEOs, raising its fleet to 51 planes at the end of 2016. Thai AirAsia, the country's largest budget airline, also plans to operate new routes in Indochina and Indian markets such as Phuket to Siem Reap in Cambodia and Bangkok to Kolkata in India in the last quarter, it said in a statement. The two new planes will push up the capacity up to 186 seats from the previous model of 180 seats and save fuel burn up to 15 percent, the company said.
Approximately 30% of Thai AirAsia’s fleet is now based outside Bangkok, compared to 15% two years ago, and this portion will continue to increase as the airline expands. Thai AirAsia is particularly keen to grow its base at U-Tapao near the resort of Pattaya, which opened in Sep-2015 and now has two aircraft. Thai AirAsia plans to expand the U-Tapao/Pattaya base by one or two aircraft in 2017, enabling new routes to China. Thai AirAsia is also considering the launch of international services in 2017 from Khon Kaen, which could become its seventh base and the fifth gateway for services to mainland China.
(Sources: Reuters, Press Reader)
Bangkok has ordered an additional pair of Airbus Helicopters H225M rotorcraft, adding to an existing fleet of four of the twin-engined type operated by the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF). The mission ready RTAF’s EC725s are specially manufactured to perform combat search and rescue (CSAR) missions, search and rescue (SAR) flights, troop transport operations and other tasks. Delivery of the two additional EC725s is scheduled for 2019, the company announced.
(Sources: Aviation Week, Flight Global)
South East Asian carrier Thai Smile Airways has commenced operations to two cities, Gaya and Varanasi, from Bangkok, while its flights to Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Lucknow are set to be rolled out by the year end. The expansion of services into the Indian market is part of Thai Smile's ambitious growth program to develop network and ensure international connectivity, the airline said.
The airline said these flights will bridge the demand of both Indians and Thais, who have been looking for seamless connections for religion, work and leisure purpose, in Thailand, India and onward destinations. The flight will operate with A320 aircraft which will offer a Premium Economy Class (12 seats) and Economy Class (154 seats) and host of features for passengers, such as the in-flight entertainment experience and specially designed Indian cuisine & beverages to passengers.
(Sources: Business Traveller, Travel Trends Today)