Key points from a recent report by the Centre for Aviation

  • Thailand is developing U-Tapao Airport outside Bangkok into a maintenance hub with new joint venture facilities from Thai Airways and potentially AirAsia.
  • Bangkok Airways is also planning MRO expansion with a new facility at Sukhothai and a new third-party business.
  • Heavy maintenance on Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways and Thai AirAsia aircraft is now done at Bangkok Don Mueang, but space constraints at Don Mueang preclude MRO expansion.
  • Bangkok Suvarnabhumi has an A380 hangar for Thai Airways but has relatively limited MRO capabilities and is unlikely to expand as the focus shifts to U-Tapao.

Thai Airways’ main maintenance base has been at Don Mueang for nearly 50 years. Thai Airways moved its hub from Don Mueang to Suvarnabhumi as Suvarnabhumi opened in 2006 but never invested in building up a heavy maintenance capability at Suvarnabhumi except for the A380, which cannot be accommodated at any of the Don Mueang hangars.

U-Tapao Airport is now poised to become Thai’s main maintenance base, taking over the A380 from Suvarnabhumi and potentially some of the aircraft types now maintained at Don Mueang. U-Tapao has ample space and support from the government, which plans to make the area around U-Tapao a new economic corridor.

U-Tapao is a Royal Thai Navy-owned airport 200km from Bangkok. Thai Airways is leasing land from the Royal Thai Navy to build the new MRO centre at U-Tapao.

There is virtually no space at Don Mueang to accommodate MRO expansion. Don Mueang has become an LCC hub and this year will accommodate more passengers than it did before the opening of Suvarnabhumi.

Thai’s current MRO facility at Don Mueang is now surrounded by active aircraft stands, with passengers being bused to the ageing terminals. It is not an ideal situation for flight operations and Don Mueang is now prone to frequent delays.

Read more about Pattaya Airport’s role in servicing planes for various airlines here:

Thai Airways Develops Utapao Airport as Maintenance Hub
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