Airbus and Thai Airways plan to begin construction of a new, expanded MRO facility at Thailand’s U-Tapao Rayong Pattaya International Airport next year, as part of the airport’s development program.

The two companies have agreed to build the replacement MRO center as a joint venture (JV).

They intend to formally sign the JV agreement in the first quarter of 2020, the carrier told ATW. The construction phase is also scheduled to begin in the first quarter and is expected to take about two years. Thai plans to begin aircraft heavy maintenance and painting by July 2022 after gaining approval from Thai authorities.

The first phase of the new MRO base will include one large hangar, a paint hangar, and other buildings to support line and base maintenance. An area has also been set aside so more hangars and workshops can be added in the future, the airline said.

In the new hangar, Thai will be able to simultaneously handle three widebody aircraft for heavy maintenance, along with two widebodies for light maintenance or two narrowbodies for heavy maintenance, as well as two narrowbodies for light maintenance.

The new facility will be larger than the current hangar, which has two bays for widebody heavy maintenance and one bay for narrowbody heavy maintenance. After the new hangar is completed, the existing hangar will be removed to make way for a second runway and an additional passenger terminal.

Thai Airways has other MRO facilities at Bangkok’s Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports. The Don Mueang site will still be its largest maintenance base after the first phase of U-Tapao development, but subsequent phases of construction will likely make U-Tapao the airline’s largest MRO base, the airline said.

The airline expects to be able to accommodate more third-party work when the new U-Tapao facility opens.

Adrian Schofield,