To make social distancing easier, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines, among others, have taken the drastic measure of blocking many middle seats on their flights. Many other airlines are considering taking the step once they relaunch flights. However, not everyone is in agreement with the idea of blocking off seats.
The CEO of Irish budget carrier Ryanair has a different opinion on the matter and thinks that not selling the middle seat won't make a real difference in keeping travelers extra safe and that will only hurt the airline. He found the idea 'idiotic' at best.
According to its chief executive Michael O'Leary, the airline's business model requires a plane to fly at near full capacity. He went on to explain that if Ryanair was forced to carry fewer passengers, it would not return to flying. Previously, O'Leary said that the airline already told the government of Ireland that if restrictions are imposed requiring the airline to leave the middle seat empty, the government will have to pay for the empty seats or the airline won't fly.
Not only does O'Leary feel that it will hit the bottom line of Ryanair, but also he goes on to claim that blocking the middle seat won't help with social distancing in the end - the distance simply isn't far enough.
While Ryanair doesn't fancy the idea of blocking seats, the airline is open to other suggestions. O'Leary said that other measures should be considered, such as checking the temperature of every passenger and requiring the usage of face masks - measures that are already done at many airports in Asia.
One of Ryanair's main competitors, easyJet, said that it will probably have many flights with social distancing measures in place in the short term, especially considering that there will be relatively low demand for air travel soon after travel restrictions are eased.