Ryanair CEO Says Leaving Middle Seats Open is ‘Idiotic’

The top executive with low-cost carrier Ryanair said the company has no plans to resume flights if keeping middle seats vacant to fight the spread of viruses becomes a requirement.

According to The Guardian, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said banning people from sitting in the middle seat to help combat the current coronavirus outbreak would be “idiotic” and financially unviable.

O’Leary revealed the airline is operating under the assumption that 80 percent of flights could resume by October if the current travel restrictions are eased by July. If the Irish government bans middle-seat passengers, though, the controversial CEO said they would have to pay for the lost revenue or “we won’t fly.”

While other carriers such As Delta Air Lines, Emirates and easyJet have all announced plans to keep middle seats empty, at least temporarily, the Ryanair CEO said it doesn’t ensure people are six feet apart, which defeats the purpose of the measure.

“We can’t make money on 66 percent load factors,” O’Leary told The Guardian.

Instead of closing off middle seats, O’Leary thinks carriers in the U.S. and Europe should follow the lead of Asian airlines, which have incorporated other measures, including requiring passengers and crew members to wear masks and have their temperatures checked at airports.

To combat the spread of viruses on planes, Italian manufacturing firm Aviointeriors shared several renderings on Instagram of new seating concepts that would focus on physical separation among passengers in the same row by using plastic shells custom fit for each seat.

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