EasyJet set to vacate middle seats on resuming flights
LONDON, United Kingdom – EasyJet will likely keep its middle seats empty once flights resume to maintain physical distancing triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, the British no-frills airline said on Thursday, April 16.
"I expect that to happen," chief executive Johan Lundgren told reporters when questioned about the current financial health of EasyJet, which has grounded all commercial flights because of COVID-19.
"That is something that we will do because I think that is something that the customers would like to see," he added.
"Then we will work out with the authorities and listen to the customers' views and points on what they believe is the right thing to do."
Most EasyJet aircraft are configured with 3 seats on each aisle.
"I'm talking about this as an initial phase," said Lundgren in reference to the seating plan.
"Nobody knows for how long that phase will be. We're also looking at various disinfection programs on the aircraft, we're in discussions with [European aviation safety regulator] EASA if there are other additional measures we should take.
"I think it's important that customers understand that we are taking this very seriously and first and foremost our concern is about the customers' well-being and our people's well-being."
Lundgren spoke after EasyJet said it expected a pre-tax loss of between £185 million and £205 million ($228 million and $252 million) for the 6 months to March 31.
That would mark an improvement after a £275-million loss in the same period a year earlier.
The group's 1st half performance was aided by cost-cutting, new finance initiatives, and the deferral of aircraft purchases.
Airlines reporting over this 6-month period and who fly across the northern hemisphere tend to post 1st half losses because it covers the winter months, when demand is traditionally weak.
Lundgren described EasyJet's 1st half performance as "very strong prior to the impact of coronavirus." – Rappler.com