Thailand’s civil-military airport upgrade worth USD 5.7 billion to pose a threat to Singapore’s dominance

June 05, 2017

Thailand plans to take over the dominant position held by Singapore in aircraft repair, maintenance, and overhaul by upgrading its Vietnam war-torn civil-military airport for a valuation of USD 5.7 billion. The ambitious project is a part of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha’s mission to boost the Thai economy that had reportedly fallen flat since the military seized power almost three years earlier. This project is also a vital part of a mega plan that intends to make an investment of USD 44 billion (1.5 trillion baht) between 2017 to 2021 to significantly develop Thailand’s eastern seaboard.

The government of Thailand has apparently, already allocated its budget for the year 2017, with a view to improvise on the target set for the country’s MRO business. In addition, Airbus SE has also signed a deal with Thai Airways International Public Company Limited to assess the development of the MRO facilities at the U-Tapao International Airport, the civil-military public airport located near Bangkok. The latest reports state that Lockheed Martin Corporation’s Sikorsky Aircraft has also joined the bandwagon of companies that intends to study the increase in MRO spending by the country, particularly now that Thailand is spending a lump sum in renovating the U-Tapao International Airport.

Experts from Thailand’s Board of Investment state that foreign direct investments (FDI) have now regained their importance, especially across the high technology and digitals sectors, after having gone through a sluggish period, which is likely to help Thailand raise more funds for achieving its ambitious plans by the end of 2021. Thailand’s endeavor is also expected to generate lucrative avenues for global aircraft MRO market.

Besides the airport at the Eastern Economic Corridor, further investments of USD 11.5 billion for the construction of a new urban landscape, USD 4.5 billion for high-speed rails, and USD 14 billion for industrial development are also in the offing. While the airport and a port will fall under the government jurisdiction, the other projects are expected to be controlled by privately held firms.

Experts state that while Thailand’s vision seems quite ambitious, the country may encounter the constraints of an unfavorable political scenario and the non-availability of a skilled workforce. The country’s representatives however, are confident that things will fall in place with time, with minor glitches that can be resolved quickly. The fact that Singapore’s position in the MRO industry is slightly tight at the moment will provide a positive impetus to the growth of the MRO sector in Thailand.