Thai authorities have started moving toward adopting a more streamlined and standardized regulatory process, including setting clear terms and conditions for foreign and local businesses as more aviation and aerospace companies look to base their operations in the Southeast Asian nation.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT), an upcoming royal decree will outline a number of conditions for foreign enterprises seeking to conduct MRO operations in the country, including terms that address micro-investment and the transfer and import of technology. The decree comes as Thai Airways and Airbus continue to negotiate investment terms over a joint MRO center at U-Tapao Airport, near the country’s eastern seaboard. The two parties signed agreements in 2017; however, plans stalled after Airbus raised concerns about whether the ownership structure of the project satisfies criteria under a public-private partnership scheme.
In a separate development, the CAAT has approved a draft regulation under its Air Navigation Act that seeks to streamline licensing provisions for civil and business operators. The new regulation divides licenses into two categories: business licenses for commercial airlines and private charters, and business licenses for non-passenger aerial work that involves small aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles. Pending approval from Thailand’s Ministry of Transport, authorities hope the new regulation will spur aviation business activities such as crop dusting, sightseeing tours, and aerial photography.
Thailand’s push to streamline regulations comes amid a flurry of activity from foreign aviation firms vying to expand their portfolios in Southeast Asia. In an effort to establish the nation as one of the region’s leading MRO hubs, the government is steadily developing a large and diverse ecosystem at U-Tapao to support its investment scheme for the Eastern Economic Corridor. According to the Board of Investment, Thailand’s present MRO focus centers on engines, airframes, components, and line maintenance. Wheels and brakes, auxiliary power units, inflight entertainment components, engine-fuel and controls, and landing gear rank as the five components expected to bring in the most capital. Government forecasts call for Thailand’s MRO expenditure from 2015-2024 to reach a total of $10.6 billion.