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Thailand to build aircraft centre in the north

Published: 21-Sep-15 11:26AM

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Thailand is planning to build an aircraft maintenance centre at the Chiang Rai International Airport in the North to cope with the growth in air travel and tourism in Southeast Asia and China.

An aircraft maintenance centre may be built at the Chiang Rai International Airport in the North to cope with the growth in air travel and tourism in Southeast Asia and China, the Airports of Thailand (AOT) said.

Nitinai Sirismatthakarn, president of AOT, said last week the company was studying the feasibility of building an aircraft heavy-maintenance centre at Mae Fah Luang Chiang Rai International Airport, to handle the significant growth in the aviation and tourism industries in the North and the region as a whole.

“AOT is planning an aircraft heavy-maintenance centre in the north of Thailand. Chiang Rai airport has high potential. If the project happens, AOT should take benefit from many airlines operating in the southern part of China and as well as in Southeast Asia and Thailand,” he said.

AOT is the operator of six international airports in Thailand.

Currently, Singapore is benefiting from the bulk of the business from aircraft heavy-maintenance and after-sales services. Many airlines from southern China are using Singapore for such services, he said.

Once the feasibility study is completed, AOT will invite key players in aviation to join investment and development.

Several airlines, including Thai Airways International and AirAsia, have expressed an interest in the project.

Tassapon Bijleveld, chief executive officer of Thai AirAsia, said details of the plan still needed to be ironed out, but AirAsia already has its own maintenance centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

However, the regional no-frills airline is interested in investing in an aircraft parking bay at Don Mueang International Airport.

According to Nitinai, more than 8,000 new aircraft are scheduled to deliver an increasing number of passengers in the coming years. Of that number, 2,800 new aircraft will arrive in Asia and about 1,400 of those will go Southeast Asia, including Thailand.

Don Mueang International Airport has since 2012 catered to low-cost carrier (LCC) traffic with passenger numbers for 2014 besting the previous year’s figures by 30 per cent.

This year, the airport has already served 22.5 million international and local passengers, making it the busiest LCC airport in the world.

“We are going to have the third-phrase development at Don Mueang, which is expected to be completed by 2019. Additional capacity of 10 million passengers will be increased after the new phrase,” Nitinai said.

Aside from the impending projects at Mae Fah Luang and Don Mueang airports, AOT is also planning to build a third runway and second passenger terminal at Suvarnabhumi Airport in the next five years.

Phuket International Airport is also expected to complete renovations and expansion by 2017, while Chiang Mai and Hat Yai airports have plans for renovations in 2020 and 2023, respectively.

“A budget of 142 billion baht is set for developments at six airports over the next 10 years.

“Of the budget, about 120 billion baht is earmarked to increase capacity in the next five years,” Nitinai said.

By 2019, the number of annual passengers at the six airports is expected to increase from 81 million to 165 million.







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