May 5, 2020 / 12:40 PM / a month ago

Global airlines body IATA opposes leaving middle seats empty

FILE PHOTO: A logo of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is pictured before and an interview with Reuters on the consequences of the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Geneva, Switzerland, March 13, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

LONDON/PARIS (Reuters) - The body representing global airlines came out against leaving middle seats empty on aircraft on Tuesday, as debate intensifies over how to get airlines flying while respecting social-distancing rules in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Brian Pearce, chief economist at the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said most airlines would have been unable to make money last year if a third of the seats had been removed on the industry’s most-flown models.

In April, IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac said leaving the middle seat empty was among the likely conditions for a resumption of air travel to be discussed with governments around the world.

Reporting by Sarah Young, Tim Hepher; editing by Jason Neely

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