Thailand - Country Commercial Guide
Last published date: 2022-07-25


Thailand relies on imported aviation equipment and products including aircraft, related parts, maintenance services, airport, and ground support equipment.  U.S. aviation equipment and technology are widely accepted and perceived by Thai buyers as high quality with reliable warranties, after-sales service, and part supplies.

The number of inbound and outbound passengers have been affected by waves of COVID-19 pandemic and Thai government’s regulations on COVID-19 tests and quarantine requirements in most of 2021 and early 2022.  As a result, major Thai airlines have faced difficulties in trying to increase the number of air passengers.  Nonetheless, with an expectation that the COVID-19 situation in Thailand and worldwide could improve in the second half of 2022, Thai airlines are expecting a return to normal operations as international and domestic flights begin to resume.

Despite the challenges in the airline and aviation industry, the Airports of Thailand (AOT) and the Department of Airports remain positive on the recovery of Thai airline industry.  AOT continues its airport expansion projects including connectivity between small cities and the capital city and with major tourist attractions.  Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Thailand’s major international airport, Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK), had exceeded its annual 45 million passenger capacity.  AOT forecasted that all three major Thai airports BKK, Don Muang (DMK) and U-Tapao (UTP) will see a recovery in passenger traffic to 2019 levels by around 2025.

Following the Ministry of Transport’s approval of development for the BKK Phase 2 expansion valued at $1.9 billion, the construction of new terminals at BKK has begun and is scheduled to be completed in 2024.  This will increase the airport’s annual handling capacity by another 60 million passengers.  For the long-term plan, the AOT is planning invest in airport projects in Thailand with a total investment budget of $11.66 billion covering the period of 2019 to 2040.

Other aviation support agencies under the Thai government that may initiate procurement projects from time to time included the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) and the Aeronautical Radio of Thailand Ltd. (Aerothai).

Aviation industry development is also part of Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) development project.  Thailand’s main airport at the eastern seaboard areas, U-Tapao Airport, will be expanded and is targeted to be a maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) hub for aviation-related industries.  The EEC is targeting $7 billion in MRO investment.  MRO development will bring in other aviation-related businesses including customs service center, distribution, logistics, catering, and multimodal transportation.  With these developments, Thailand is expected to assume a more important role as a regional hub.  Thai airlines and aviation industry are open to opportunities for U.S. airport development, aircraft service and parts, and aerospace equipment suppliers.

Table: Thailand’s Aviation – Aircraft and Parts (Millions USD)





2022 (Estimated)

Total Local Production





Total Exports





Total Imports





Imports from the U.S.





Total Market Size





Exchange Rate





(Total market size = (total local production + imports) – exports)

Source: Customs Department, Thailand’s Ministry of Finance

Leading Sub-Sectors

  • Aircraft and Parts (AIR)
  • Airport Development
  • Ground Support Equipment (APG)
  • Aviation Services (AVS)


Thailand is centrally located in the heart of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and will benefit both from the increasing number of tourists and foreign investors as international travel resumes.  In 2022, the aviation and aerospace industry sectors are largely expected to recover from the COVID-19 disruption.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Thailand’s three major international airports, Bangkok Suvanabhumi (BKK), Don Muang (DMK), and U-Tapao (UTP) are expected to recover back to 2019 levels by about 2025.

Thailand continues to invest in expansions of several major airports, including BKK, DMK, Phuket (HKT), Chiangmai (CNX), and Chiangrai (CEI).  The Airports of Thailand Public Co., Ltd. (AOT) is expected to invest US$ 11.5 billion to increase airport capacity to 246.5 million annual passengers (MAP). BKK expansion phases one to five, including north, east and west terminals expansion, ground transportation, and car park, will increase the airport capacity to 150 MAP in 2031.  DMK airport’s phase two terminal expansion will be completed in 2023 and will begin phase three development of terminal three in 2024 to enhance capacity to 40 MAP by 2029.  

HKT airport in the south has started the construction of runway and taxiway to handle 25 flights/hour and the phase two development of the international terminal is expected to start in 2023 once cabinet approval and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) are obtained.  For northern Thailand, CNX and CEI are the two major airports planned for expansions.  The CNX airport will be expanded from eight to 16.5 MAP in 2026, under the phase one development plan where new construction will include terminal, runway, expansion of apron, service road and utilities.  For the CEI airport, the expansions will include constructions of the north taxiway, VIP and regular terminals, fire station, office building and road access. The expansions of CEI are planned for 2025-2035 to increase the airport capacity from three to eight MAP.

Thailand also plans to expand the Thai Navy‐owned U‐Tapao Airport near the Eastern Seaboard into a new MRO hub.  The U-Tapao airport and MRO center are one of the high priority projects for Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) development, aiming to accommodate 15 million passengers/year and to accommodate three aircraft undergoing maintenance at a time.  The project value is estimated at $9.3 billion under the public‐private partnership (PPP) approach. An EIA of the project is underway.  With an estimated total area of 2,570 acres, the U‐Tapao project will include new terminal building, commercial gateway and ground transportation center, MRO, free trade zone, cargo complex, and aviation training center.

Major Thai airlines are expecting MRO service to generate more revenue, in line with the commercial airline core business, including catering and cargo services.  With the Thai Government’s aim for Thailand to become a service center in the region, government promotion of MRO activities is apparent in the EEC.  Opportunities exist for American aviation/aerospace suppliers and service providers to sell aerospace products and services or to join with local partners to develop research and development (R&D), and MRO facilities in Thailand.Projected demands include airport construction equipment, ground support equipment, aircraft and parts, MRO services, research and development, human resources (particularly training for pilots and mechanics), aviation safety advisory, security equipment, passenger service equipment, and baggage screening machines.