First people mover arrives for future BKK terminal tunnel

A rendering of a Siemens-built shuttle for Suvarnabhumi Airport. Photo: AOT Official / Facebook
A rendering of a Siemens-built shuttle for Suvarnabhumi Airport. Photo: AOT Official / Facebook

Suvarnabhumi Airport received the first in a fleet of six people movers to shuttle passengers between the main terminal and another under construction about a kilometer away. 

The first Siemens-built automated Airval shuttle will be used to pilot the new system, with the rest to follow later this year, Airports of Thailand announced today.

Each consists of two cars which can carry upward of 210 people, or about 6,000 passengers per hour, and run at a maximum speed of 80kph, the authority said. It will take about two minutes to traverse the underground link between the existing terminal and the first satellite terminal nearly a kilometer away.

The new terminal complex is part of a THB62 billion development plan that was approved in 2011 that officials insist is “88% complete” despite numerous delays.

The Airval people movers, which have wheels and run on a track without an operator, will run around the clock. In a 2017 announcement, Siemens said it would ferry 3,590 passengers per hour.

The new terminal’s opening has been postponed to April 2022 due to the pandemic, according to the airport authority, which blamed the pandemic for a delay in importing materials.

The complex is meant to relieve overcrowding at Suvarnabhumi by raising annual passenger capacity from 45 million to 60 million. Suvarnabhumi became swamped by too many travelers almost as soon as it opened in 2006. Surging tourism arrivals led to Don Mueang Airport being taken out of retirement, which has since been expanded as well. 

Pressure to expand has been alleviated by the pandemic, as only a fraction of flights have returned since air travel resumed this month.

A rendering of Suvarnabhumi International Airport’s new SAT-1 terminal complex. Image: Maa Consultants Co. Ltd.
A rendering of Suvarnabhumi International Airport’s new SAT-1 terminal complex. Image: Maa Consultants Co. Ltd.

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Check out the People Mover (not monorail) coming to Bangkok

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