“If it is forbidden to occupy a middle seat due to safety measures on aircraft, the economy class will practically end. It would be ideal to fly on a prepaid flat rate. Domestic flying also has great potential,” says during an interview with E15.cz Oliver Dlouhý, founder and co-owner of Kiwi.com.
“Flights could be cheaper after lockdown due to an “airline price war”, he added. “Airlines will ’price-dump’ low fares so that they have a turnover and pay aircraft leasing. But it has to gradually return to normality, to the golden times of flying,” believes added Dlouhý.
After the gradual release, the main challenge will be how tourists regain confidence in air safety. According to a survey from the USA, 75 percent of people would now be afraid to board a plane.
The low-cost carrier Ryanair backs the introduction of mandatory temperature checks and face masks for passengers and crew when flights resume.
“We’re in dialogue with regulators who are sitting in their bedrooms inventing restrictions such as taking out the middle seats, which is just nonsense. It would have no beneficial effect whatsoever,” says Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary.
He explained: “When this thing is over there is going to be such massive discounting going on that there will be a large spike upward in travel and tourism for a period of time.”
“It’s tricky to understand how many airlines will be able to operate profitably. It will be a much smaller industry,” said Brian Pearce, Iata’s chief economist, talking about the onboard social distancing proposals.
His team argues that social distancing through vacant middle seats is no guarantee against the spread of coronavirus on planes. Instead, Iata supports the wearing of face masks by passengers for safer flying.
Airlines will only be able to increase airfares once passenger numbers recover, but this will only be by 2021 at the earliest, estimates Iata.