Thailand to allow major foreign ownership in aviation sector

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BANGKOK, Nov 21 – Thailand’s obsolete Air Navigation Act, enforced since 1954, will be amended to allow up to 70 per cent foreign ownership in aviation-related businesses, according to Transport Minister Chatchart Sitthiphan. 

He said a draft of the new Air Navigation Act, approved yesterday by the cabinet and set for parliamentary deliberation, allows foreign companies to engage in aircraft manufacturing, maintenance and spare parts distribution.

A Thai-based company can accept up to 70 per cent foreign ownership in accord with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreement on air navigation, and foreign ownership may be increased to 100 per cent if it involves aviation business using advanced technology.

The present Air Navigation Act came into law in 1954 setting maximum foreign ownership at 49 per cent, but the act has failed to attract foreign investment to Thailand, Mr Chatchart said. He called for changing the law in accord with the coming ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.

The government will encourage the private sector to set up an aviation industrial estate to prepare Thailand as a logistics hub for the region, he said, adding that the aviation industry will boost Thailand’s economic opportunities after the country’s success in the automotive manufacturing industry.

The transport minister said he invited Rolls-Royce, world leader in spare parts manufacturing and aircraft maintenance, to invest in Thailand during his recent trip to the United Kingdom.

He said Rolls-Royce had reservations about the Thai Board of Investment (BoI) requirement that foreign investors disclose some confidential technological information, adding that he would discuss the issue with the BoI.