Thai Airways, Airbus U-Tapao MRO JV Delayed

The proposed bidding for the Airbus-Thai Airways U-Tapao MRO joint venture has been postponed until April after the airframe OEM failed to submit its proposal, which local media attributed to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Credit: Airbus

The bidding process for the proposed Thai Airways and Airbus MRO joint venture at U-Tapao Airport in Rayong is to be suspended until at least April after the airframe OEM missed the deadline for the submission of proposals on Mar. 6, according to local media reports.

Speaking to national newspaper Bangkok Post, Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), cited the novel coronavirus pandemic, currently taking its toll on the aviation industry worldwide, as having a significant impact on both Thai Airways and Airbus. 

As a result, Sangsubhan expects Thai Airways to receive proposals from Airbus by Apr. 20, but local media reports say the process could be opened up by Thai Airways to different partners should Airbus miss next month’s revised deadline.

Thai Airways and Airbus initially partnered together back in 2017 to explore MRO opportunities at U-Tapao, where the airline already has an existing maintenance facility which carries out heavy checks on aircraft types such as the A380. 

This was followed up in summer 2019, when they agreed to jointly invest around 11 billion-baht ($335 million) in construction of the replacement MRO center by summer 2022. Once built, it is expected to have capacity to maintain 80-100 aircraft per year and will offer heavy maintenance and painting services, along with a line maintenance offering.

The project is one of five key pillars of the Thai-government led EEC initiative, which aims to grow the industrial presence of Thailand’s eastern region. Other projects include infrastructure investments in the form of a high-speed rail link between U-Tapao and Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports, along with an aviation campus also at U-Tapao and two seaport investments in Thailand’s eastern region.

James Pozzi

As Aviation Week's MRO Editor EMEA, James Pozzi covers the latest industry news from the European region and beyond. He also writes in-depth features on the commercial aftermarket for Inside MRO.