Nok Air (DD, Bangkok Don Mueang) continues to scope out airports in northeastern Thailand for a suitable site to build an MRO facility. According to The Nation newspaper, the low-cost carrier has an initial budget of THB1.5 billion baht (USD41.6 million) and is also scouting for a foreign joint venture partner.

Nok Air CEO Wutthiphum Jurangkool told the outlet that he hopes to have the facility operational by 2026. ch-aviation has previously reported on Jurangkool's MRO plans. He wants the facility to service the carrier's fourteen B737-800s in-house, and he hopes to have the necessary approvals and financing in place sometime in the first quarter of 2024.

The CEO adds that Utapao Airport is not being considered because of the potential competition there. Chai Eamsiri, the CEO of Thai Airways International (TG, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi), has confirmed his airline has the funds and the desire to revisit pre-pandemic plans to build an MRO facility at that airport. Originally a joint venture between the airline and Airbus, the latter pulled out during the pandemic, but Eamsiri and local infrastructure agencies promoting the USD200 million-plus plan say there's plenty of regional MRO business ripe for the capture in addition to meeting Thai's own in-house MRO needs.

In another sign of confidence concerning MRO growth prospects in Southeast Asia, Keerati Kitmanawat, president of Airports of Thailand (AOT), operator of Bangkok Don Mueang Airport, has said he wants to construct a THB800 million (USD22.2 million) MRO facility in a joint venture with the Thailand-based Forth Corporation. The company, which counts Thai Airways among its current customers, develops products and processes connected with emergent technologies, such as digital payments, renewable energy, and communications. It says the MRO facility at Don Mueang, in which it will hold a 75% stake, will be certified for A-checks, C-checks, part maintenance, and non-destructive testing when it opens.

Kitmanawat says AOT has also invested THB772 million (USD21.4 million) in an MRO facility at Chiang Rai. The joint venture partner in that facility is the Beijing headquartered state-owned aerospace and defence conglomerate Aviation Industry Corporation of China.

Analysis done by Airbus estimates the ASEAN MRO market will be worth USD6.57 billion annually by 2030. Based on current scenarios, Singapore is expected to command 25% of that market, followed by Indonesia and Thailand.