Thailand - Country Commercial Guide
Aviation

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data

Last published date: 2021-02-18

Overview

Thailand relies on imported aviation equipment and is a net importer of products, including aircraft, parts, maintenance services, and airport/ground support equipment.  U.S. aviation equipment and technology are well received by Thai buyers.

Thailand is located at the center of Southeast Asia. This geographical advantage supported further growth in the aviation sector due to a rise in tourism prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The commercial aviation industry is currently valued at $2.2 billion and is expected to rise further as the number of inbound passengers and tourists visiting Thailand rebounds. Prior to the pandemic, passenger volume in Thailand was forecast to grow at an average of 5.4% per year.

In 2019, more than 38 million tourists visited Thailand.  With the increase in the number of passengers, major Thai airlines expanded their networks.  Moreover, passenger volume in Thailand grew at an average of 2% per year.

The influx in air passenger growth prior to the COVID-19 pandemic meant that the Thai market became an attractive destination for commercial aircraft maintenance and aircraft manufacturing industries. Infrastructure facilities began to fall into place for Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) services, mostly operated by local and regional airlines.

Thailand was a net-importer of aviation equipment in 2019, including aircraft, parts, maintenance services, and airport and ground support equipment. Its total aviation equipment imports were worth $2.1 billion, with the total aviation equipment imports from the U.S. at $705 million. Thai buyers prefer foreign aviation equipment and products, especially from the U.S. or Europe, as these are perceived to be of higher quality.

Foreign aircraft manufacturers are preferred suppliers due to a lack of local producers.  Airlines increase or replace their fleets by purchasing or leasing additional aircraft. Furthermore, demand exists in Thailand to establish a Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) hub in ASEAN, partly through government incentives for aircraft parts manufacturers and aircraft maintenance and repair businesses. Key MRO subsectors include components, which represent the highest share of 41% of all the spending; engine maintenance, making up 28% of the share; line maintenance, accounting for 16%; airframe heavy at 8%; and modifications at 7%.

Under the Thai government policy to develop the domestic aerospace industry, Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) services will take center stage.  Thailand is a major player in regional aircraft maintenance and manufacturing industries.  Infrastructure facilities are in place for aircraft repair and engine overhaul services.  The major, leading airlines in the country, Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways, and Thai Lion Air, have established MRO facilities designed to serve their own aircraft and those of other airlines that visit Thailand.  MRO activities are creating an increased demand for aircraft parts and technical services.   

Apart from MROs, aviation-related businesses such as logistics, catering, and land transport services will be developed.   As a result, Thailand is expected to assume a new role as a regional hub.  Thai airlines and the aviation industry are open to opportunities for U.S. aircraft parts and aerospace equipment suppliers.

Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) development also includes aviation. U-Tapao airport facilities and MROs are among the top five projects where the Thai government expects to select developers.  The EEC is expected to draw a $7 billion investment in MROs and aviation-related industries over the next five years.  Other projects include high-speed rail connecting the three major airports (Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, and U-Tapao) and deep-sea port expansions, complementing the EEC development.

 

2017

2018

2019

2020 (Estimated)

Total Local Production

 1,537,968

 1,561,037

921,775

1,076,886

Total Exports

 1,384,171

 966,781

829,597

969,198

Total Imports

 4,261,258

 3,065,011

2,120,731

3,072,674

Imports from the US

 2,169,121

 993,682

704,533

996,166

Total Market Size

 4,415,055

 3,659,268

2,212,909

3,180,362

Exchange Rates

31

31

31

31

(total market size = (total local production + imports) - exports) $US thousands

Leading Sub-Sectors

· Aircraft and Parts (AIR)

· Airport and Ground Support Equipment (APG)

· Aviation Services (AVS)

Opportunities

The Thai Government’s aim is for Thailand to become a service center in the region, primarily through government promotion of MRO activities in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) areas.  Opportunities are likely for American aviation and aerospace suppliers and service providers to sell aerospace products and services or join with local partners to develop research and development (R&D),  maintenance, repair, and operations facilities in Thailand.

The Eastern Economic Corridor approved two aviation infrastructure development projects, the U-Tapao Airport and Aviation City, as well as an MRO center at the U-Tapao Airport. These projects create further demand for ground support equipment, aircraft & parts, training services for pilots and technicians, aviation safety advisory services, security equipment, and ground support vehicles.

While the impact of the pandemic on the Thai tourism industry is undeniable, the attractiveness of Thailand continues as a major tourist destination.  Thailand is centrally located in the heart of ASEAN and benefits both from a returning number of tourists and foreign investors.  According to the leading operator at Airports of Thailand (AOT), Thailand’s tourism industry contributed to the growth in air passenger traffic.  Airports managed by AOT handled 143.00 million passengers in 2019, up from 139.58 million in 2018. There were 893,533 aircraft movements (takeoffs and landings) in 2019, versus 874,999 in 2018. In contrast, air cargo movements decreased to 1.444 million tons in 2019 from 1.690 million tons in 2018.

Apart from the airport expansion currently underway at several major airports, including Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao, opportunities exist for Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) services.  Major Thai airlines are expecting MRO service to generate more revenues, in-line with the commercial airline core business, including the catering and cargo services. 

The product demand includes airport construction equipment, ground support equipment, aircraft and parts, Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) services, research and development, human resources (particularly pilots and mechanics), aviation safety advisory, security equipment, passenger service equipment, baggage screening, and ground support vehicles.

Web Resources

Ministry of Transport

Ratchadamnoen Nok Ave., Bangkok 10100

Tel. 662-283-3091, 662-282-3713

Fax: 662-280-0801

Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT)

333/105 7 Floor Lak Si Plaza, Khmapheng Phet 6 Rd.,

Talat Bang Khen, Lak Si, Bangkok 10210

Tel: 662 568-8800

Fax: 662 568-8844

Department of Airports

71 Soi Ngarm Duplee, Tung Mahamek

Yannawa, Bangkok 10210

Tel: 662 287-0320-9 

Fax: 662 286-3373

Aeronautical Radio of Thailand Ltd. (Aerothai)

102 Ngamduplee, Rama IV Road

Tungmahamek, Sathorn, Bangkok 10120

Tel: 662 287-3531-41

Fax: 662 287-3131

rports of Thailand Public Co., Ltd. (AOT)

171 Vibhavadi Rangsit Road

Don Muang, Bangkok 10210

Tel: 662 535 1192

Fax: 662 531 4061