Leased 777-300ERs to join THAI's fleet
Thai Airways International (THAI) will add three Boeing 777-300ERs to its fleet this month in order to meet the growing demand for flights, in light of the relaxed travel restrictions.
The airline announced on Thursday that two of the leased aircraft had arrived in Thailand on Wednesday. The remaining jet, it said, will be delivered by the end of the month.
The planes will boost the airline's capacity to serve the increasing demand from various markets across the globe, which are starting to pick up thanks to the easing of travel restrictions in most markets, including Thailand.
The aircraft are equipped with a state-of-the-art inflight entertainment system, with eight seats in first class, 40 in business and 255 in economy.
The jets will initially be deployed on the Bangkok-London route later this month, though they will ultimately serve other lucrative long-haul routes, the airline said.
For the time being, the cost will be calculated based on the number of hours the aircraft are used.
In the long run, THAI will pay the lessor a monthly rate that will be further negotiated to meet the company's ongoing financial rehabilitation process.
The financially strapped flag carrier has sold or is in the process of selling 45 jets, leaving it with just 58 aircraft, excluding the three leased 777-300ERs.
Separately, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) said air travel strongly rebounded in February, as Omicron-related restrictions began to ease outside of Asia.
It noted that the war in Ukraine which began on Feb 24 has yet to have a major impact on passenger figures.
Total traffic in February (measured in revenue passenger kilometres, or RPKs) was up 115.9% from February 2021.
This represents a further improvement from January's figures, which were up 83.1% from the comparable period last year.
Compared to February 2019, however, traffic was still down 45.5%, it said.
Asia-Pacific airlines in particular recorded a 144.4% rise in passenger numbers in February, compared to the same month last year.
In the region, capacity rose by 60.8% while load factor was up by 16.1 percentage points to 47.0%, the lowest among regions.
Willie Walsh, the IATA's director-general, said air travel recovery will keep gathering steam as more governments are preparing to lift travel restrictions.
Air traffic has benefited this week after a Covid test requirement ended.