U-TAPAO | Thailand could host its first major international airshow as early as 2023, the Bangkok Post has said, as officials consider signing a 20-year deal with Farnborough International.
U-Tapao International Airport is tipped as the probable venue for the event, located just 15 miles from the coastal city of Pattaya. The proposed four-day biannual show could encompass private, commercial and military aviation, featuring up to 60 aircraft and 200 exhibitors.
Farnborough International is most famous for organising the Farnborough International Airshow in the UK, one of aviation’s longest-running and most prestigious trade events. They have also run the Bahrain Airshow since its inception in 2010.
While Thailand has never hosted a large international airshow, it is no stranger to aviation events. Every year, several air bases and airports – including U-Tapao – open their doors for Children’s Day events, and U-Tapao also hosted Air Race One in 2017. A smaller, annual show at Bangkok’s Don Mueng Airport, mostly featuring general aviation types, was trialed in 2009, but failed to make significant headway.
The Royal Thai Air Force held an airshow of its own in 2012 to mark its centenary, which featured its all-new aerobatic team, Blue Phoenix, alongside front-line Thai aircraft, Indonesia’s Jupiter Aerobatic Team and a Singaporean F-16C; sadly, although formed in 2011, Blue Phoenix has not displayed since. The air arm’s 1 Wing also staged an airshow in 2015, which was headlined by China’s August 1st (Ba Yi) aerobatic team.
The new airshow will compete with three established events in the region: the Langkawi International Maritime & Aerospace Exhibition in Malaysia, the Singapore Airshow (previously Asian Aerospace) and the China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition (Airshow China) in Zhuhai.
It is not yet clear whether the new Thai airshow will feature flying displays as one of its main attractions, but the annual Children’s Day events, as well as the RTAF’s participation in recent editions of LIMA and the Singapore Airshow, prove its willingness to perform to the public and its ability to stage world-class aircraft demonstrations.