EasyJet will rip out an entire row of seats on some of its aircraft due to ongoing cabin crew shortages which are expected to intensify over the busy summer months. By removing a row of seats, easyJet will be able to reduce the number of cabin crew operating on certain planes while still complying with European air safety rules.
The aircraft in question is the Airbus A319 – the smallest model of aeroplane in easyJet’s fleet. The plane is part of the incredibly popular A320 series of single-aisle aircraft made by European manufacturer Airbus but it is shorter than easyJet’s other aircraft at just 111 feet in length.
In comparison, easyJet’s newest A321neo planes measure 146 feet in length, with a capacity for as many as 235 passengers. The A319, meanwhile, can only accommodate 156 passengers.
Crucially, however, that is six passengers more than the maximum permitted to allow easyJet to fly the planes with just three cabin crew rather than four crew members.
The rules for how many crew members are required are set by aircraft manufacturers and aviation regulators and can differ around the world. In Europe, the general rule is that there should be a minimum of one crew member on board for every 50 seats installed in the aircraft cabin.
When Airbus first designed the A319, the maximum seating capacity was deliberately below the threshold to allow a three crew operation but easyJet managed to install an extra row of seats on its aeroplanes by retrofitting the planes with special space-saving toilets.
In normal times, those additional seats drive some welcome additional revenue but, like many airlines, easyJet is struggling to recruit enough staff to keep up with the surge in travel demand.
As result, sources claim the airline will temporarily remove one row of six seats from some A319 aircraft so that the aircraft can be operated with just three crew members.
Over the last few weeks, easyJet has been forced to cancel hundreds of flights due to staff shortages. The airline has blamed the disruption on high employee sickness rates, as well as slow referencing checks for new hire cabin crew that is preventing them from starting work.
Similar issues have plagued other airlines, including British Airways which has resorted to wet-leasing aircraft and crew from other airlines to keep its operations going.
Both carriers have trimmed capacity due to staffing constraints.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.
They really have to physically remove the seats? Couldn’t they just sell six less tickets?
The rules are based on the physical number of seats. In the past they could block the seats but the rules changed.