Airfares could rise by 50 per cent if social distancing leads to empty middle seats
Travellers should brace for higher air ticket prices if carriers are expected to maintain social distancing measures on flights to reduce chances of Covid-19 infection, with airlines warning that recovery from the pandemic could be severely jeopardised if middle seats are left empty.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said airfares could soar by 54 per cent for travellers in Asia-Pacific, the highest worldwide, as airlines would be operating at nearly 40 per cent lower capacity if the middle seats were eliminated.
“[By] removing the middle seats, [the] cost of providing services is higher, eventually airlines will have to reflect that in fares to have viable operations,” Brian Pearce, IATA’s chief economist, said during a teleconference this week.
The organisation, which represents some 290 airlines accounting for 82 per cent of global air traffic, said that more than on-board social distancing, thorough and frequent cabin sanitisation, making passengers wear masks on flights and implementing other health and safety measures at airports would reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission among travellers.