easyJet removes seats from A319s to solve crew issues

©easyJet

With multiple airlines facing crew staffing shortages to the point where the likes of easyJet and British Airways were forced last month to cut hundreds of flights, easyJet has chosen the ingenious option of removing the back row of seating from its A319 fleet of aircraft, thus enabling each aircraft to fly with fewer crew.

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regulations require a certain number of crew per plane based on seating capacity as opposed to the actual number of passengers on a flight. As a consequence, in reducing the maximum seating capacity of the A319 now to 150 passengers, this means that easyJet only needs to provide a crew of three per flight instead of four, but still meeting CAA requirements.

While airlines are currently recruiting heavily to replace many crew who were made redundant as a result of the disastrous effects the COVID-19 pandemic had on the travel industry, delays in obtaining security clearance for new trainees has exacerbated the current problem, though easyJet has confirmed it will be putting more resources into processing the accreditation of new staff. The low-cost carrier is confident that the seat reduction on the A319 will not greatly affect revenue despite anticipating being near 2019 passenger numbers this summer.

Pre-pandemic easyJet flew approximately 300,000 passengers daily and the carrier said the scheme to limit passenger numbers on the A319 will allow the airline to operate with more certainty. The change in capacity was very small as a proportion of overall summer season passenger numbers and the company reassured travellers that as the last six seats are typically booked in the final days before departure, selling a maximum of 150 tickets would not affect customers planning summer travel.

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