Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) is exploring the possibility of launching direct flights to India to capture the emerging demand for connections to South Asia.

PAL president and chief operating officer Stanley Ng told reporters the airline is considering to mount Manila flights to India as soon as it gets out of the supply crunch that it is dealing with.

The carrier aims to snare the Philippine demand for South Asian flights in its plan to reach India, especially as it is bringing in new aircraft in the latter half of the decade, allowing it to look into opportunities for network expansion.

However, the airline has to overcome the supply crunch the aviation industry is facing right now. Ng said PAL can only launch direct flights to India once it recovers its grounded jets.

At present, airlines are receiving their jet orders behind schedule, as manufacturers are struggling to deliver their backlog of commitments to operators from around the globe. The situation is also worsened by the long queue of carriers waiting to get their jet engines fixed.

Aviation supplier Pratt and Whitney is recalling the engines it made for Airbus A320neos to repair a manufacturing defect, forcing airlines to ground their aircraft of the same model.

The supply crunch may also postpone its initial plan of resuming Manila trips to Sapporo, with Ng saying he is doubtful if PAL can get enough aircraft to offer new routes.

PAL is eyeing to resume Manila flights to Sapporo and Cebu trips to Osaka within the year, but this plan will depend on when the airline can retrieve parked aircraft and take in new units.

'We have to get the engines first for Sapporo and, hopefully, for India. [We want to get to] India because there is a market and it is growing,' Ng said.

Last week, PAL announced that it has entered into a wet lease agreement with European carrier Wamos Air for the rental of two Airbus A330-200s. The airline will deploy the Wamos Air jets to operate the Manila flights to Melbourne and Sydney for five months starting June 1.

The carrier owned by taipan Lucio Tan is strengthening its fleet to ensure that it can keep up with the demand for air travel in the pandemic aftermath.

For 2024, PAL is spending $450 million for capital expenditures to bring in new aircraft and renovate existing jets, particularly 18 A321ceos, placing them with new seats and upgrading their in-flight entertainment

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