In a bid to rationalise its capacity and cut costs, the country’s largest airline by market share Jet Airways today said it will lease three of its wide-body Boeing planes to Thai Airways for three years with immediate effect.

The premier private airline signed a new dry lease agreement with the Thai national carrier for three Boeing 777 -300 extended range aircraft for three years with immediate effect, a spokesperson said.

The lease of the three planes to the Thai Airways is in addition to the four other 777-300 ERs currently on dry lease with the Turkish Airlines. Under dry lease, the lessor rents out the aircraft without any crew as in case of a wet lease.

Observing that leasing out of its planes is part of its strategic fleet and capacity rationalisation initiative, Jet Chief Executive Nikos Kardassis said, the airline has been working for the last two years to “more closely align the airline’s deployed capacity with current demand, streamlining costs in the process”.

“With improvement in the global economic environment leading to a rise in air traffic, Jet is now optimally positioned to return to profitability and sustain stronger growth, both in India and overseas with the introduction of new routes,” Kardassis claimed.

Expanding its global route network, the airline will be launching a daily non-stop flight from Mumbai to Johannesburg from April 14 and a daily service on the Thiruvananthapuram-Dammam sector from March 28.

In the domestic segment, its second low-cost arm Jet Konnect will also introduce daily services on the Delhi-Dehradun and Kochi-Bengaluru-Ahmedabad sectors, as also five-days-a-week service on the Hyderabad-Chennai-Port Blair sector from March 28.

Jet recently registered an impressive growth over five consecutive months - October 2009 till February - and consolidated its lead position in the industry.

Its average international seat factor during this period exceeded 80 per cent, while the average domestic seat factor was 74 per cent, reflecting continued high demand. Its all-economy subsidiary JetLite also showed signs of a turnaround registering an average of over 18 per cent growth in passenger traffic for the past four months.