EEC Office, ZAEZ ink aerotropolis agreement
The Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Office has signed an agreement with China's Zhengzhou Airport Economy Zone (ZAEZ) on strategic cooperation and to develop an aerotropolis at U-tapao airport in Rayong province.
The EEC Office plans to develop air cargo in the first phase of the project, supporting the government's Eastern Fruit Corridor and developing a logistics system for local fruit farmers.
Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said U-tapao airport plans to add an aerotropolis in the near future.
"This facility will benefit the Thai economy and connect with China's Belt and Road Initiative, which links to Europe through logistics routes in China," Mr Somkid said.
Kanit Sangsubhan, secretary-general of the EEC Office, said the agreement with the ZAEZ includes sharing aviation experience and know-how to develop U-tapao airport.
The ZAEZ will support aviation skills for local workers and transfer its technologies and staff to develop the aerotropolis in Rayong.
"Both parties will set up a cooperation team for air cargo development and will start working as soon as possible," Mr Kanit said.
He said the aerotropolis project will include U-tapao aviation city, air cargo and a city development project in a radius of 30 kilometres surrounding the airport.
"The government is conducting a study of the air cargo business, including transfer of know-how from China, and is planning the size of the land plot for the facility," Mr Kanit said. "The government will soon announce bidding criteria to seek potential investors for the air cargo facility after talking with many relevant agencies."
U-tapao airport occupies an area of 6,500 rai, covering Ban Chang district in Rayong and Sattahip district in Chon Buri.
U-tapao aviation city (290 billion baht) and a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) centre (10.6 billion baht) are among five EEC megaprojects, together with a high-speed railway linking three airports (225 billion baht), the third phase of Laem Chabang seaport (114 billion baht) and the third phase of Map Ta Phut seaport (55.4 billion baht).
Ma Jian, party secretary of the ZAEZ, said Zhengzhou and U-tapao airports will be important aviation hubs in Asia-Pacific and contribute to the economic expansion of both countries.
The ZAEZ will support Thailand in inviting Chinese companies to invest in the EEC.
The Chinese agency is an aviation logistics hub for smartphone suppliers, e-commerce operators, aircraft manufacturing and maintenance, and cloud computing companies.
"The ZAEZ expects to invite companies to expand their investment to the EEC," Mr Ma said.
In addition, Mr Somkid plans to visit major cities in China such as Guangzhou and Shenzhen, as well as Hong Kong, to invite Chinese firms to invest in the EEC scheme in September.