//EasyJet considers leaving middle seat empty

EasyJet considers leaving middle seat empty

Budget airline announces half-year results and consider ‘slow return’.

EasyJet’s chief executive has said that he expects domestic restrictions to be lifted first and has confirmed that the budget airline will consider leaving the middle seat empty.

As he announced the airline’s half-year results, Johan Lundgren warned: “We don’t know when flying will resume again. Nobody can tell what the level of demand will be when this comes back.”

He added: “We expect to come back in a slow way. We are planning scenarios. We need to be flexible in terms of how demand will be.”

Lundgren said: “It is all about the welfare of our customers and crew. Our assumption is load factors will not get back to normal in the initial phase, but we are talking about the initial phase.

“We are looking at measures we can take, for example, leaving the middle seat empty, disinfecting aircraft. We have not said we expect flying at this time or that date. Nobody knows. Hopefully the restrictions will be relaxed, then lifted.”

He said countries “will lift their domestic flying restrictions first. Then there will be arrangements between countries to lift restrictions. Then we will see what the demand is.”

Lundgren added that after the lockdown there will be a lot of people who want to go out and have a holiday, “but it all depends on the restrictions.”

“At some point demand will be where it was. Nobody knows when, but I’m sure demand will be there. We will clearly look to have the middle seats empty at the start. Customers will want to see that particularly in the start-up period.

“Customers will go through a process in their own minds as they see a relaxation and going on holiday will be on their minds again.

“As we start flying it’s safe to assume we will see load factors not at normal levels. There won’t be the need for normal turnarounds and that will help manage social distancing.”

The airline is now expecting a smaller loss for the first half of the year – between £185m to £205m – than forecasts for a loss of £275m.