Airport bus market: Combining comfort and sustainability

The Editor provides an annual round-up of the airport bus market.
Cobus Industries

The global airport bus market is forecast to achieve a CAGR of 10% between 2022 and 2027, according to latest research.

The adoption of advanced technologies to reduce the carbon footprint in airports and the replacement of ageing diesel engine-powered buses with new electric buses are mainly driving this growth.

The market is also performing strongly due to the resurgence of air travel since the pandemic and the construction of new airports for economic development across various cities. In addition, the emerging trend of luxury airport buses is set to bolster the airport bus market in the coming years.

Editor Samantha Payne Polepaka talked to key players to see if the IMARC Group’s findings were in line with their own business projections.

COBUS Industries
The company is seeing a recovery in the airport bus market after a substantial decline in business during Covid. However, COBUS Industries does not anticipate a complete return to 2019 airport bus sales until 2025.

“An average worldwide CAGR of 10% is relatively optimistic for the first years of the above forecast period, but is realistic at least for the second half. CAGR will of course be different in regions and related to the local passenger flight increases,” said Andreas Funk, Chief Commercial Officer/Sales Director at COBUS Industries.

Demand for electric buses has been very different worldwide and has not reached the numbers COBUS Industries had expected when it introduced the first e.COBUS in 2016 due to the lack of charging infrastructure, necessary power supplies, limited battery capacity and other factors.

“Some airports discuss whether electric, hydrogen and/or combustion engines using synthetic fuels will be the future,” continued Funk. “The operation of carbon free GSE will however increase exponentially due to the commitment of airports to be net zero on the apron by 2035. COBUS Industries can cope with all requirements, and is also developing the COBUS Hydra, the first hydrogen-driven airport bus in the world.”

The latest product from its new series of fully electric-driven buses – the COBUS Vega – is attracting a lot of attention from the market. Due to its new design, the bus offers the largest passenger capacity by still having the same outside dimensions of a traditional COBUS. It can be equipped with a modular battery system using two to four latest generation NMC3 batteries.

“The use of wheel hup motors at the rear axles as well as the front stun axles provide a much better drive performance. New air-conditioning concepts as well as a ‘city bus type’ suspension offer maximum comfort to the passengers. New battery concepts will increase to an even higher autonomy than before,” explained Funk.

A stand-out feature is the digital data availability of the COBUS Vega, which will give customers new levels of information on the operation, autonomy and service requirements.

The company is focusing on launching the COBUS Vega in 2024 as well as develop the COBUS Hydra in the same year.
“Equally it is very important to motivate our customer to fully work with our digital customer platform, to use the COBUS REAL after sales concept as well as the COBUS Academy,” added Funk.

Guangtai’s airport buses have received widespread popularity both internationally and domestically with a very high cost-effectiveness. The buses have been sold to many countries and regions, totalling sales of around 368 units.

Interestingly, diesel buses still account for a relatively high proportion, but with the promotion of environmental protection concepts and the building of green airports in multiple countries and regions around the world, the market for electric airport buses has gradually expanded in recent years.

Guangtai’s electric airport bus, the GBD08D, has a bullet-like and dynamic streamlined design. It is equipped with a kneeling system (meaning it lowers the rear suspension of the vehicle) to provide convenience for passengers with reduced mobility.
“The heavy-load axle device we have chosen has an ultra-strong load capacity,” said Genna Liu, Public Relations Manager.

“Furthermore, the electric airport bus has an electronically controlled air suspension system, which can adjust the chassis height to improve the trafficability of the vehicle and convenience to get on and off it.”

Guangtai has also paid attention to the vehicle’s safety. “The electric airport bus is equipped with a battery from CATL which has passed 354 items of testing and the LFP battery’s Ingress Protection level is IP68. In addition, automatic fire suppression and emergency steering add another guarantee to the safety of vehicles. The high and low voltage circuit have been isolated, which effectively avoids interference and ensures the safety of the equipment,” said Liu.

Concerning the new airport bus, the materials notably used have been upgraded. Unlike the steel body of previous models, the new electric airport bus body frame is made of aluminum alloy materials and the outer shell is made of fibreglass, which decreases the risk of corrosion and prolongs the working life of the vehicle. At the same time, corrosion resistance reduces maintenance costs and time.

The GBD10D electric airport bus is a winner for VIPs who want an additional touch of class during their journey from the terminal to the aircraft – customised services such as sofas and even office desks can be installed to make their passenger experience more comfortable. The driving area is also completely isolated from the passenger area, ensuring the privacy of guests.

The configuration of the air spring damping system can effectively reduce the bumpy degree of the vehicle during driving. The main drive system, auxiliary drive system (including steering and braking), as well as air conditioning, heating, defrosting and other systems of the entire vehicle are all driven by electricity, achieving zero emissions of the vehicle.

Mallaghan says it also sees visible growth in demand for buses after Covid-19 with customers looking for more flexible solutions, like leasing or renting.

“Also, there is a big demand for electric and alternative drive solutions instead of conventional diesel,” said Owen McKenna, Sales Director, at Mallaghan.

The standout features for the all-electric Árbus include the modular battery system, adding new latest generation battery technology, fast charging, a powerful cooling and heating HVAC device, both provided by one inverter driven air conditioning unit, reduced turning radius and maximised passenger comfort and passenger experience.

McKenna says the company has a strong order book this year for airport buses, before adding: “We are still cooperating with Ryanair and numerous other customers around the globe to enhance their passenger e-mobility on the airports where they operate.”

TCR’s electric bus workgroup

TCR has established an electric bus workgroup in response to increase in demand for e-buses in the near future. The group will centrally manage bus projects through all stages of the project (lead, consulting, operational and second life). Kristof Philips, Chief Commercial Officer, at TCR, said: “The focus group on electric buses was created to help our clients implement the best possible bus solutions. Each set-up is unique and requires an in-depth understanding of the assets (brands, bus types, pro/cons), battery types and chargers as well as the operational requirements. This is in order to ensure optimal sizing of the fleet and minimise infrastructure and asset investments. Next to defining the most optimal set-up, this working group also partnered with various bus OEMs on conversion projects aiming at converting diesel into electrical. As of June we will be showcasing our converted COBUS and TAM in Spain.”


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