Airbus, THAI to ink U-tapao deal

Airbus, THAI to ink U-tapao deal

A centre to handle the maintenance, repair and overhaul of planes will be held at U-tapao airport. (Bangkok Post file photo)
A centre to handle the maintenance, repair and overhaul of planes will be held at U-tapao airport. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Airbus and Thai Airways International Plc (THAI) are expected to sign a pact on a joint venture company to handle the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) centre at U-tapao airport sometime this month.

Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak yesterday confirmed the pact to Pierre Jaffre, president of Airbus Asia-Pacific, which is partnering with THAI to develop the MRO centre.

Mr Somkid also admitted the development of the MRO hub was delayed, citing technical problems.

He said the government pledges to address Airbus's concerns, particularly about investment protection, and may assign the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Office to host the development project instead of the national carrier, making THAI a joint venture partner with Airbus.

"Airbus and THAI have agreed to mutually seek the best solutions and we expect the two companies will sign a pact on the joint venture company within this month," said Mr Somkid.

He informed Airbus its investment in Thailand will help the company grow because of Thailand's good geographic position within Asean.

The EEC already signed a memorandum of understanding with Zhengzhou Airport Economy Zone (ZAEZ) on aviation cooperation to enhance Thailand as the region's aviation hub.

THAI signed an agreement with Airbus on MRO opportunities at U-tapao airport in 2017, and signed a deal with Rolls-Royce in 2018 on Trent XWB engine R&D at THAI's maintenance centre in Bangkok.

The new MRO centre will have the capacity to service 80-100 aircraft a year. In addition, the national carrier is developing its MRO campus near U-tapao airport, expected to be completed in 2023.

The campus aims to become an advanced aerospace centre.

Mr Somkid said the contracts for EEC's key five infrastructure projects are scheduled to be signed this month, boosting investor confidence.

The five projects are a high-speed railway linking three airports (225 billion baht); U-tapao aviation city (290 billion); a MRO centre with two phases (10.6 billion); the third phase of Laem Chabang seaport (114 billion); and the third phase of Map Ta Phut seaport (55.4 billion).

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