The coronavirus worldwide lockdown has had a huge impact in various sectors including tourism all around the world and many airlines are the ones who are bearing most of the brunt. While several countries have sealed their borders, even venturing out in many cities has become difficult. 

With the multi-billion dollar airline industry taking such a big hit, there have been several proposals to get it started again. One of the suggestions doing rounds is to keep the middle seat empty and thereby maintaining social distancing even when the plane is in the air – a suggestion that the Ryan Air CEO Michael O’Leary has called “idiotic.”

“The middle seat doesn’t deliver any social distancing, so it’s kind of an idiotic idea that doesn’t achieve anything anyway,” he said in a recent interview before adding if this rule is imposed, his flights will not operate. “Either the government pays for the middle seat or we won’t fly,” he further said, as reported by

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Ryan Air is a budget Irish airline, founded in 1984 © Wikimedia Commons

Headquartered at Dublin, Ireland, Ryan Air is a low-budget airline and is the world’s largest airline by number of routes and ranked fifth in terms of the number of seats available to the passengers. Airlines like Emirates and Delta have already put this into place, at least temporarily to help customers and employees practice social distancing.

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However, with the middle seats remaining empty, it is the passengers who will have the bear the brunt financially, which could mean that there will be no more cheap travel until there is an end to this pandemic. On average, you would need four-seat spaces to maintain 6 feet or 2 metres as prescribed by governments. Health experts have backed the idea of removing passengers from the middle seats, but it, however, might not be economically sustainable in the long run.