Airbus flies helicopter route to tap demand in Thailand
Airbus has announced that its next area of focus is the helicopter business, citing a 20% growth potential in Thailand.
Airbus helicopters vice president Fabrice Rochereau said the majority of the expansion was driven by increased demand for disaster relief, search and rescue, and maritime security in the country and throughout Southeast Asia.
Currently, the company operates nearly 1,900 helicopters in Southeast Asia, including 71 in Thailand. Airbus, the European multinational space corporation, has a 30% market share in the civil and para-public segment.
During a group interview on Friday, Rochereau said that Airbus helicopters were used for a wide range of missions in the civil, para-public, and military sectors, with single and light-engine helicopters dominating the market.
However, the company sees increased adoption of light-twin and medium-lift helicopters in the region, especially in Thailand.
"With Thailand's in-service fleet in the military and public services sectors expected to grow by 20% over the next 10 years, Airbus is confident of securing at least half of that increase, particularly in maritime security, emergency medical service, disaster relief, as well as search and rescue, where there is a growing demand," he said.
Airbus helicopters are already actively supporting numerous agencies globally for their operations in those areas, he added.
Still, Airbus expects that demand in the military segment will be met by a combination of new acquisitions and replacements in military training, maritime security and surveillance, search and rescue, and tactical transport.
According to Airbus, Thailand deploys almost the full range of Airbus’ helicopters — the multi-mission H145M transport aircraft for the Royal Thai Navy and the Royal Thai Army, the latest generation multi-role H225M and H135 military training fleet for the Royal Thai Air Force, as well as the high-performing H175 for the Royal Thai Police.
To strengthen its helicopter base in Thailand, Airbus' chief representative - Thailand, Bert Porteman, said that the company has already established the Flights Operations Centre, Helicopter Services Centre, and Maintenance, Repair and Operating since 2014 to provide technical assistance to customers in Thailand and neighbouring Laos and Cambodia.
"Today, Airbus is the sole helicopter manufacturer with a maintenance facility in Thailand," he said.
Additionally, the company envisions developing those operation service centres to produce better flight operations data used by airlines.
He vowed that Airbus would deepen its partnership with local partner Thai Aviation Industries (TAI) to support all of the country's governmental helicopter fleets.
TAI currently serves as Airbus' prime contractor and completion centre for the sale and distribution of its helicopters to Thai military and government customers.
As decarbonisation is a critical issue to address, he insisted that Airbus will continue to actively work towards it and fully aligns with other industry stakeholders on the following axes: aircraft fleet replacement, sustainable aviation fuels, and hydrogen.
Airbus vice president Rochereau pointed out that the company's goal was to share technological know-how and groom a skilled Thai workforce to meet the global growth of aviation and the aerospace industry.
He added that Airbus aims to be a part of enhancing the existing ecosystem in the country so that Thailand can better connect to the global aviation supply chain.
Meanwhile, he insisted that Thailand is a strategic partner of Airbus and the company remained fully committed to strengthening its presence and partnerships in the country.
The company is scheduled to participate in the Defence & Security exhibition in Bangkok next week, where it will showcase its latest range of helicopter capabilities.