TCEB backs air show project

BANGKOK, 6 August 2019 – The Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau backs a move to launch a regional air show at U-tapao airport south of Pattaya.

It recently hired UK-based Farnborough International to conduct a feasibility study on the potential for an air show in Thailand.

Farnborough International confirmed it delivered the report to TCEB last month but declined further comment. Since then, invitation-only reviews and hearings focused on Thailand’s aviation stakeholders and representatives of the private sector.

TCEB hopes to measure the level of support for an ambitious project that would become a signature event for the country’s aviation industry.

To establish the show, possibly biennially, would be a massive financial undertaking, but TCEB needs to attract a mega signature event of regional significance.

Farnborough International is the apparent frontrunner to manage the show, but TCEB has not shared details of the feasibility study recommendations or observations.

In addition to commissioning the FI study, TCEB executives visited Farnborough International Airshow in the UK in 2018, as well as the Bahrain International Air Show and Paris Air Show in 2019. They hoped to gain insights on how to run a similar event in Thailand.

In 2018, Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang International Airports handled 634,011 flights, up 5.79% and 103,378,371 passengers, up 7.39%. The International Air Transport Association listed Thailand among the top 10 countries that could have the highest airline traffic volume in the next 20 years.

However, a significant source of business for air shows comes from the lucrative military hardware market, not commercial aviation.

TCEB’s ambitious plan to establish a biennial air show calls for a launch as early as 2023, but no later than 2026. TTR Weekly filed further questions to TCEB on the project and the potential role of Farnborough International last week. If the bureau replies the comments will be inserted in this report as a postscript.

Competitive set
The project will face stiff competition from well-established air shows in the region.

The Singapore Airshow, launched in 2008 is a biennial aerospace event. It hosts high-level government and military delegations while serving as a regional showcase for leading aerospace companies.

Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA) is a maritime and aerospace exhibition that takes place once every two years in Langkawi, Malaysia. The last event took place earlier this year.

The event is one of the largest maritime and aerospace exhibitions in the Asia-Pacific, and focused mainly on the defence industry, but also supports civilian industries.

Aero India, held in February, is one of the biggest air shows hosted in Asia attracting a massive turnout of military hardware suppliers and commercial aircraft manufacturers. Dubai and China both organise regional air shows again focusing mainly on military hardware.

As a backdrop to the air show plan, the Thai government will upgrade U-tapao Rayong Pattaya International Airport and turn it into the third main international airport for central Thailand.

Also, U-Tapao to Don Muang and Suvarnabhumi Airports will be served by a new high-speed train project due to be completed by 2023.