Johan Lundgren said it was one of the options being considered as the low-cost carrier began planning to resume flights after the entire EasyJet fleet grounded on March 30. The CEO said that a drop in passenger demand would help keep empty middle seats when travel restrictions are relaxed.
“Our assumption is that the load factors will not have returned to normal from the start, which means that we will have the option of an intermediate seat option, but I am talking about this as an initial phase and no one knows during how long this phase will be, “said Lundgren.
“We are also considering various aircraft disinfection programs,” he added.
However, the mid-seat option was rejected by rival Ryanair’s managing director Michael O’Leary, who said it would be a “hopelessly ineffective” way to keep passengers safe and ultimately unaffordable for airlines .
EasyJet said winter bookings were “far ahead” of last year, after releasing its schedule earlier than usual. It includes customers who were booking flights following the Covid-19 epidemic.
Customers were able to change their flights free of charge, receive credit for their flights or receive a full refund. Almost half of the passengers chose alternative flights or flight credits, the airline said.
EasyJet now expects a lower loss for the first half, between £ 185 million and £ 205 million, compared to previous forecasts for a loss of £ 275 million. It follows an emergency cost-cutting program that included a hiring freeze, promotions and salaries, the cessation of all non-compulsory training and cuts to its administrative budget. The airline also offers unpaid leave to staff.
Lundgren said it was too early to say when flights would return to normal and how profits would be affected, but said EasyJet had a team dedicated to data science modeling various scenarios.
“I think we just have to be very flexible about how the program looks, and then we have to see what the price will be at that time and how profitable these flights will be,” said the general manager.
“But I think it’s something we can’t know until these restrictions are lifted and we can look at the impact that this will have on sales in the future. The answer to the question is that no one knows today what this means, but we are anticipating a number of scenarios on how to get back into the market. “