U-tapao tipped to stage air show in 2023
Thailand's first air show is expected to take place in 2023 at U-tapao airport, according to a study of Farnborough International.
The study together with domestic hearings suggest that Thailand has the potential to host an air show to include civil, commercial and military aviation, said Nichapa Yoswee, senior vice-president for business at the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB).
The event will also help promote the aerotropolis, one of the megaprojects planned for the Eastern Economic Corridor, she said.
The location of U-tapao airport, which spans areas in Rayong and Chon Buri provinces, could be a suitable venue because of ample accommodation in the area, especially in Pattaya, a city that hosts meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions, Ms Nichapa said.
The industry hearing organised recently by the TCEB gathered ideas from 17 agencies in public and private sectors in aviation-related associations and educational institutions.
The agencies include the Eastern Economic Corridor Office, Thai Airways International, Bangkok Airways, the Thai Exhibition Association, the Aerospace Engineering Department and Kasetsart University.
According to the study and industry hearings, Thailand's maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) sector is strong, with average growth of 11.8% a year, which is higher than the global rate (5.1%).
The study also revealed Thailand's aerospace industry expertise, which could support the aviation market on the strength of major international MRO and aerospace manufacturing companies operating in Thailand, including Rolls-Royce, Airbus, Senior Aerospace and Ducommun Technologies.
Local subcontractors need to improve aviation manufacturing supply chain from Tier 3 to Tier 2, which entails making more high-end parts like propellers, the study said.
One of the most important factors for Thailand to host air shows is support from the state sector because such events require a large budget.
Ms Nichapa has encouraged the government to sign a 20-year contract with Farnborough International to nominate the company as organiser for the shows, which typically take place every two years.
"International air show events can serve as concrete evidence of how ready Thailand is, in terms of the potential to host global Mice events as well as the capability of the local workforce as an MRO hub in the aviation business," she said.
The initial duration of such an event is four days, featuring 200 exhibitors and 15,000 trade buyers together with 60 aircraft.
The TCEB expects to stimulate spending of 1.4 billion baht from the air show and could create 920 jobs for locals.