Aviation sector discusses removing middle seats
As the aviation sector is forced to implement new measures to protect public health amid the tentative easing of lockdowns, the elimination of the middle seat to maintain social distance on passenger routes may wipe out budget airlines.
Employing millions of people and being essential to international businesses and leisure, the aviation sector ground to a halt due to worldwide travel restrictions meant to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
SOCIAL DISTANCING MEASURE WOULD CUT CAPACITY ON PLANES
Suat Hayri Aka, Turkey's ambassador to the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), pointed out that airlines were working on solutions to revitalize acceleration.
"There are projects aiming to make passenger drop-off and loading procedures, seating arrangements, in-flight meals and environmental disinfection that may allow the spread of the virus and in-flight ventilation system quality adapted to the new conditions," Aka said.
Imposing onboard social distancing measures will drive low-cost airlines' prices up as they depend on high passenger volume -- generally flying at 90% of load factor -- and high capacity utilization, he underlined.
Social distancing measure would cut capacity on planes to 62% of maximum load factor, which is well below the average industry breakeven load factor of 77%, according to IATA. With fewer seats to sell, unit costs of airfares would rise sharply for all airlines by 43-54%, depending on the region.