BANGKOK — Government critics on Friday were outraged by the revelation that the Royal Thai Air Force is set to spend nearly 55 million baht to refurbish a lavatory on board a VIP aircraft.
The 54.43 million baht project is detailed in a document published on a military-run website earlier this week. The air force said the price tag for the flying toilet is “reasonable” since it involves sophisticated engineering, though many remain skeptical at the exorbitant budget.
“If we use 54 million baht to renovate toilets for students, we can revamp toilets at more than 180 schools,” Move Forward MP Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn tweeted Thursday. “Roughly 20,000 students would benefit from it.”
The proposed refurbishment will take place on the Airbus A340-500 passenger jet with the tail number HS-TYV, according to a procurement document published on the air force’s website.
ปรับปรุงห้องน้ำ 54 ล้าน!!
เปิดเอกสารกรมช่างอากาศ กองทัพอากาศ ระบุวงเงินงบประมาณจัดซื้อจัดจ้างปรับปรุงห้องน้ำเครื่องบินของทอ. จำนวน 1 ห้องเป็นเงิน 54 ล้านบาท pic.twitter.com/U6jMH4AzIY
— ข่าวสด (@KhaosodOnline) December 16, 2020
The force’s spokesman Air Marshal Thanat Chanampai could not be reached for comments as of publication.
But in a statement to the media, the air force said the refurbishment will lay down an entirely new set of plumbing and sewage equipment, employing “highly advanced engineering technology from Germany,” hence the seemingly steep price.
The four-engined airliner was previously used by Thai Airways for long haul flights to Europe before the air force acquired it back in 2016 for a price of reportedly 1.7 billion baht – paid from the state coffers.
The plane was later converted for use in “VVIP” transport missions and entered into service under the 602 Royal Flight squadron.
Another procurement document shows that the air force also awarded Thai Airways a 750 million baht contract to renovate the interiors of a Boeing 777-800 royal aircraft with the tail number HS-MVS.
Little is known publicly about the details of the project or the aircraft itself, though official records said the twin-engine jet entered into service in 2007 and is under direct command of King Vajiralongkorn’s Deachochai 3 Royal Flight Unit.