Coronavirus flights: Airlines fight back against banishing middle plane seat

Coronavirus has brought global travel to a standstill as countries desperately try to battle the deadly virus. There are now over three million cases of coronavirus globally. One solution for airlines when they return to the skies to make sure social distancing is enforced is to get rid of the middle seat.


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It is hoped such a move would limit the spread of a virus.

Delta Air Lines, Alaska Airlines and Spirit Airlines are among the US airlines which have temporarily got rid of middle seat booking.

American Airlines is blocking off 50 percent of its middle seats and JetBlue has said fliers will only be assigned to two-thirds of the aircraft.

Australian airline Qantas has also said it will leave middle seats on its aircraft open.

In the UK, easyJet previously said it’s something they would consider introducing when their fleet returns to the skies to help reassure customers and ensure their safety onboard.

However, airlines have now slammed the idea, deeming it “neither necessary nor viable.”

The criticism was seen in a letter to EU transport ministers.

The ministers are holding a virtual meeting today on how to restore travel amid the coronavirus crisis, which has grounded 90 percent of Europe’s air traffic.

Lobby group Airlines for Europe (A4E) represents 16 airlines, including Lufthansa and easyJet.

They made their opinions known in their missive to the ministers.

“Social distancing is neither necessary nor viable on board an aircraft,” stated A4e in the letter.

They also called on EU transport ministers to “Acknowledge that – while maintaining a global coherence – there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution for transport in general, and aviation in particular.


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“Measures should be risk-based and proportionate to the individual mode of transport, and these measures should be financed by the States.”

Further requests included asking ministers to “ensure that all measures implemented by Member States remain of a temporary nature and are constantly assessed,” and to “maintain flexibility in the measures so that they can be increased/reduced according to health restrictions and needs.”

Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary has made it clear he is also against abolishing the middle seat.

O’Leary said that supports anti-coronavirus measures including masks and temperature checks for passengers and crew.

But he rebuffed the suggestion of flying with middle row seats empty.

O’Leary told Reuters: “We’re in dialogue with regulators who are sitting in their bedrooms inventing restrictions such as taking out the middle seats, which is just nonsense.

“It would have no beneficial effect whatsoever.”

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