U-tapao tipped as B15bn plane maintenance site

Air France-KLM is interested in developing an aircraft maintenance centre with Thai Airways International, and U-tapao airport in Rayong would be a suitable location, Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said on Friday.

The minister told reporters about the potential project — said to be worth 15 billion baht — after meeting with Marc Roubaud, vice-president for business development of Air France-KLM, at the ministry.

He said the European carrier was interested in the joint venture because Thailand was a connecting point between Asia Pacific and Europe.

Executives of Air France-KLM were not available for comment.

The Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning considered U-tapao airport as the best location for aircraft maintenance and aviation-related industries, Mr Arkhom added.

THAI and Air France-KLM would conduct a study on the project from October to next June and the joint venture could be set up, he added.

"The partnership to establish an aircraft maintenance centre will help produce skilled personnel and create jobs for about 350 people. Consequently Thailand will be a global centre of aircraft maintenance," Mr Arkhom said.

Thailand lacks a full-service aircraft maintenance centre and airlines in the region send their aircraft to Singapore, China and Europe for such services, the minister said.

A source at the Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning said the project cost was estimated at 15.3 billion baht and would include two maintenance hangars, a factory and an engine repair facility.

Planners have divided the project into three phases, with 5.4 billion baht to be invested from 2016-18, 4.8 billion from 2021-23, and 5.1 billion from 2026 to 2028.

THAI president Charamporn Jotikasthira said his airline and Air France-KLM would conclude the types of services and investment details in the near future.

Chalermpon Intarawong, a THAI executive vice-president for the technical department, said aircraft maintenance businesses needed potential co-investors and for the European market they were Air France-KLM and Lufthansa

Related search: Thailand aircraft maintenance

About the author

Writer: Amornrat Mahitthirook
Position: Reporter