Thai regional airline Bangkok Airways has earmarked more than $94 million worth of capital expenditures this year in an effort to tap into new business opportunities and remain competitive amid increasingly challenging market conditions.
In terms of fleet expansion, plans call for the purchase of two ATR 72-600s for delivery in the second quarter of 2019 and a two-year effort to upgrade the cabins in its Airbus A319 jets. Valued at $57.1 million, the aircraft project includes the purchase of new spare parts.
Bangkok Airways also plans to build what it calls a diversified portfolio of partners and a more comprehensive route network to boost feed. Consequently, the airline will launch scheduled and chartered flights to new destinations in the CLMV region (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam). The carrier, which targets a 3 percent increase in passenger traffic this year, also wants to increase the number of its codeshare partners from 27 to 29 or 30. Additional plans include a $10.5 million runway upgrade of Trat Airport, which the airline owns and operates.
While the Thailand government has committed to expanding a maintenance complex 90 miles southeast of Bangkok at U-Tapao Airport, the airline has reiterated its intent to build a maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) facility at another airport it owns in the north: Sukhothai Airport. The carrier has set aside $30 million for the project and plans to build a new hangar to accommodate aircraft maintenance up to C-checks. Bangkok Airways runs a one-bay hangar at Don Mueang airport; however, it faces space constraints, making expansion difficult.
Bangkok Airways’ business outlook comes amid a flurry of activity from foreign aviation firms vying to expand their portfolios in Thailand. On March 5, Triumph Aviation Services Asia (TASA) and Triumph Structures inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Thailand Civil Aviation Training Center (CATC) to establish an aeronautical and space training center at U-Tapao to increase the pool of technicians and boost the country’s MRO industry. The Thai government values the project at $43 billion over the next five years.
Last month, French MRO provider Revima announced plans to build a landing-gear overhaul facility in the eastern province of Chonburi. The 130,000-square-foot center will serve Airbus A320s, Boeing 737s, and ATR turboprops.
February also saw UK-headquartered BOSA launch its first business in the Asia-Pacific region with an MRO joint venture with Thailand-based Thayaan Aviation Consultants Group. The JV will provide line maintenance operations on nearly all aircraft types aside from the Airbus A350 and A380 at U-Tapao.
Meanwhile, Airbus and CATC signed an MoU in January to develop maintenance training and pilot training courses to serve the country’s airlines.