SEPANG - KL International Airport's (KLIA) Automated People Mover (APM) tender to replace its ageing Aerotrains is now at the final stage of the evaluation process. Malaysia Airports has identified a final shortlist of bidders after completing the technical evaluation stage.
The shortlisted bidders are now being evaluated on their commercial offers. Malaysia Airports' tender approach puts priority on first meeting its business objectives, as well as the project's technical and performance requirements. All submissions are evaluated objectively and fairly according to the set requirements. Bidders that do not meet these requirements will not proceed to the final commercial evaluation stage and all unsuccessful bidders thus far have been duly informed on their status. The tender is expected to be concluded over the next couple of months and Malaysia Airports will make the appropriate announcement once a formal award is approved by the Board of Directors of Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad.
All three Aerotrains that are currently in operation in KLIA are due for replacement as the assets are approaching their end-of-life stage. Two of the Aerotrains have been in service since the airport first opened in 1998 with a third train added in 2010. Moreover, in the last 20 years, APM technology has evolved significantly, superseding the one currently in use in KLIA and making the maintenance of an ageing asset unviable in terms of operational and cost efficiency. The replacement trains will also be able to cater to the airport's future growth. Since its opening, the airport has grown tremendously. In 1998, KLIA's Terminal 1 annual traffic movement was 13 million passengers whereas in 2019, it had reached 29 million passengers.
The tender was floated in July 2020 after Malaysia Airports had completed three feasibility studies to determine the best possible solution for connecting passengers between the main terminal and satellite buildings in terms of implementation feasibility, sustainability in catering for future terminal expansion, and financial viability. On top of the feasibility studies, the airport operator had also conducted a series of stakeholder engagements with the Ministry of Transport (MOT), the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM), the Malaysian Aviation Commission (MAVCOM) and the Land Public Transport Agency (APAD) to gather the necessary feedback.
Following these, it was recommended that the best possible solution for KLIA was to do a like-for-like replacement of all systems related to the APM. The raison-d'etre behind a like-for-like replacement is that it has the advantage of being the least disruptive, as well as the most practical and cost effective. However, it was also determined that the airport should be open to evaluate all other APM technology that is available in the market. This was in the spirit of promoting fair competition and to ensure that the chosen solution is the best fit in terms of performance requirements, the least disruptive in implementation, and based on the latest technology.
In general, there are two main types of APM technology currently available in the market today involving the train and rail track systems i.e., self-propelled and cable-propelled. For KLIA, there were several criteria that were critical to its business requirements and therefore given more emphasis. One of which was that this new APM system is a brownfield replacement project in a busy airport. The airport is currently using a self-propelled system. As such, replacing the trains with similar but newer technology is the least disruptive in terms of operational downtime and infrastructure readiness. Other major criteria include the system's reliability, availability, ease of maintenance, safety and flexibility in catering to future needs.
As part of the Malaysia Airports' APM tender requirements, bidders were provided with three submission options:
1) Baseline submission i.e., a bid solely for the replacement of all three trains and their corresponding systems infrastructure.
2) Option 1 i.e., a bid that includes the baseline submission plus the outsourced maintenance cost until 2034.
3) Option 2 i.e., a bid that includes the baseline submission plus the outsourced maintenance cost and financing until 2034
These options were put on the table in order for Malaysia Airports to receive and review the best possible bid available on a total life cycle cost and different financing options basis.