Most likely, after the Covid-19 pandemic airlines will block the possibility of booking middle seats on their aircrafts, which is being widely discussed now. The only carrier that strongly opposes this measure is Ryanair.
Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s CEO, is known for his controversial opinions. Industry experts say that after the pandemic air fares will grow up? He disagrees and promises almost free trips. IATA states that airlines will probably have to block the middle seats? The Ryanair’s boss says that it doesn’t make sense.
IATA has been considering how to minimize risks of being infected on planes. The organization proposes to reduce the quantity of seats available on aircrafts by 30%. Airlines will have to lock the middle seat, thus increasing the distance between passengers.
Some carriers have taken it seriously. Wizz Air and easyJet executives have already confirmed that it would be quite possible solution. However, Michael O’Leary considers this measure “hopelessly ineffective”.
We are in dialogue with regulators who are sitting in their offices and coming up with restrictions like blocking the middle seat, which is nonsense. It will not have any positive effect. – Ryanair’s CEO said in interview with Reuters
According to O’Leary, even if the middle seat is not bookable the distance between passengers will still be shorter than required two meters. In addition, it is impossible to keep this distance in other situations while traveling.
People come to the airports by train, where it is impossible to maintain social distance. You also cannot do this at the airport either at check-in, security check, shops or restaurants. And even the airports themselves admit it, – said Michael O’Leary.
Instead, the Ryanair’s boss advises to follow the example of Asia, where flights on some domestic routes are being resumed with temperature screening and mandatory masks to reduce the risk of being infected.
The reason of the Irish LCC executive’s reaction is probably related with the impact on revenues this measure will have. The business strategy of low-cost airlines is based on better load factor. For example in summer Ryanair’s aircraft occupancy rate exceeds 95%.
However, officially O’Leary points to different direction. He claims that due to relatively high profitability Ryanair can easily afford not to sell middle seats, while other airlines will definitely suffer losses.
Most of them lost money, even when selling the middle ground
Ryanair’s Boeing 737-800 have a capacity of 189 passengers. Blocking the middle seats will reduce the number of seats to 123.