Thailand - Country Commercial Guide
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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.

Thai airlines, heavily impacted by COVID, expect a return to normal operations as international and domestic flights rebound due to rising passenger demand and greater numbers of aircraft.  The national-flag carrier, Thai Airways predicts 2023 passenger numbers to be 80 percent of those in 2019.  The airline also has a plan to increase its fleet from 65 to 71 aircraft in 2023,

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 Bangkok, with a focus on major tourist attractions.  Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Thailand’s most popular international airport, Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK), exceeded its annual 45 million passenger capacity.  AOT forecasts 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.

The AOT plans to invest US$ 1 billion in the DMK Terminal 3 development project.  The project is in the design phase and is expected to invite bids in 2024.  The DMK new terminal is targeted for completion and to begin operations in 2029.  The new terminal will increase the airport’s capacity from 30 to 50 million passengers per year.  From 2019 to 2040, AOT plans to invest US$ 11.66 billion in airport projects in Thailand.

Other aviation support agencies under the Thai government that may initiate procurement projects include 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 in the eastern seaboard, U-Tapao Airport, will expand and become a maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) hub for aviation-related industries.  The EEC is targeting US$ 7 billion in MRO investment.  MRO development will bring in other aviation-related businesses including a 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)

Table: Thailand’s Aviation – Aircraft and Parts (Millions USD)
 2020202120222023 (Estimated)
Total Local Production 2,920 1,457 2,361        2,403
Total Exports 2,629 1,311 2,125         2,163
Total Imports 1,118, 1,237 1,531         1,559
Imports from the U.S. 317, 331 1,094              1,114
Total Market Size 1,410 1,382 1,767         1,799
Exchange Rate31313333

(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 2023, the aviation and aerospace industry sectors continue to recover from the COVID-19 disruption.

The Airports of Thailand (AOT) estimates the number of passengers for the 2023 fiscal year to reach 95 million.  AOT is investing in expansions of six major international airports, namely BKK, DMK, Phuket (HKT), Chiangmai (CNX), HadYai (HDY), and Chiangrai (CEI).  AOT is expected to invest US$ 3 billion to increase these airports’ capacity to handle 200 million passengers by 2027. 

BKK expansion phases one to five, including north, east and west terminals expansion, ground transportation, and car park, will increase airport capacity to 150 million annual passengers (MAP) by 2031.  DMK airport’s third expansion phase will add 15 MAP with an investment of one billion U.S. dollars, and enhance capacity to 40 MAP by 2029. 

For northern Thailand, major expansions are planned for CNX and CEI.  The CNX airport will grow from eight MAP to 16.5 MAP in 2026, under the phase one development plan.  New construction includes a terminal, runway, expansion of apron, service road and utilities.  CEI airport expansions include construction 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 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 is a high priority project for development of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), aiming to accommodate 15 MAP and to accommodate up to three aircraft undergoing maintenance at a time. 

The project value is estimated at $9.3 billion under the public‐private partnership approach, with U-Tapao International Aviation Co., Ltd. as the airport operator.  U-Tapao has an estimated total area of 2,570 acres and will include a new terminal building, commercial gateway and ground transportation center, MRO, free trade zone, cargo complex, and aviation training center.

Major Thai airlines expect the MRO service to generate more revenue, in line with the commercial airline core business, including catering and cargo services.  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.