New bill on foreign quota for aviation
The cabinet yesterday approved a new bill on civil aviation that authorises the Civil Aviation Board (CAB) to decide the proportion of foreign ownership in Thailand's aviation business.
The move is aimed at enhancing Thailand to become an aviation hub in Southeast Asia.
The bill amends the Civil Aviation Law of 1954 and will revoke the announcement of revolutionary article No 58 (1972).
Kobsak Phutrakul, assistant minister to the Prime Minister's Office, said the existing law requires Thai ownership to control 51% of aviation companies and shareholders must be individuals, prohibiting investment by fund companies.
That law is considered an obstacle to the development of Thai aviation, said Mr Kobsak. The amendment should be instrumental in enhancing Thailand's capacity to become an aircraft maintenance centre.
The government is keen to promote the aviation industry in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), while many foreign companies such as Airbus are keen to invest in the government's new investment location, he said.
The planned EEC, spanning Chon Buri, Rayong and Chachoengsao provinces, has been designated for development as a high-tech industry cluster, with an eye towards becoming Asean's leading economic zone for industrial, infrastructure and urban development.
The corridor will also rely on developments in transport infrastructure. The EEC is set to become an Asean water transport hub, linking the Dawei deep-sea port in Myanmar with Sihanoukville in Cambodia and Vung Tau port in Vietnam.
Investors in the EEC will receive privileges, including land leases for 50 years and extensions of 49 years, visa-free grants for the import of skilled labour or executives, and special tax perks.
The corridor is estimated to help generate new investment value of up to 1.5 trillion baht within five years, from both the government and the private sector. The law governing EEC development is set to be enforced in the middle of this year.
Mr Kobsak said the new amendment allows the board to have full authority in setting the proportion of foreign investment. The board will be chaired by the transport minister.
He said Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith told the cabinet the civil aviation bill is expected to be enforced this September.