Dhaka: Flag carrier Thai Airways will go ahead with a project to construct a USD 339 million maintenance facility east of Bangkok after partner Airbus pulled back due to the coronavirus crisis, a senior official said on April 27.
Airbus has asked not to participate in the investment, citing the impact of the COVID-19 situation on air travel, Chokchai Panyayong, Deputy Secretary-General for Infrastructure in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) said at a press briefing.
The project to build the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility is a necessity for Thai Airways and so it will move forward, either on its own or with a partner, Chokchai said, adding that Airbus would still cooperate on technology.
The European planemaker on April 27 issued a bleak assessment on the impact of the coronavirus, telling the company’s 135,000 employees to brace for potentially deeper job cuts.
“We are in discussions with our partners in Thailand regarding the most suitable way forward for all parties,” Airbus said in an e-mail about the maintenance project.
“The content of discussions with partners and customers alike remain confidential,” it added.
There is still time for Thai Airways to find a new partner as the navy is only just beginning construction on the facility’s hangar, which will take up to four years.
“By then, the COVID-19 situation will have eased. There is an opportunity for either Airbus or Boeing to come in,” Chokchai said.
The facility was estimated to cost USD 338.9 million, of which about USD 215 million would come from the navy’s budget.