Many airlines are having staff shortages. EasyJet is removing seats from planes in an unconventional way.

EasyJet removing one row of seats from A319 fleet

EasyJet is removing one row of seats from its A319 fleet. Almost one-third of the carrier's fleet is made up of narrow body jets. This row of seats is expected to be removed from the aircraft through the winter.

Why is EasyJet removing a row of seats from planes, and what is the reason? There needs to be at least one flight attendant for every 50 seats on the plane. It doesn't matter how many seats are occupied.

Four flight attendants are required for EasyJet's A319s. The A319 has exactly 150 seats and only three flight attendants are required. The airline can reduce flight attendant staffing by 25% by eliminating one row of seats.

The economics of this are fascinating

The one flight attendant per 50 passenger rule is something that is consistently considered when choosing a layout. EasyJet has a case with the A319.

  • EasyJet must consistently have flights that are 100% full for it to make sense to have those six extra seats, because each time a flight isn’t full, an unnecessary flight attendant is being added
  • Furthermore, if one row were permanently eliminated, the airline could add significantly more legroom at some seats, and try to generate revenue by selling them as extra legroom economy seats
  • On the other hand, I guess there’s something to be said for streamlining staffing, as EasyJet’s A320s require four flight attendants as well
EasyJet is lowering staffing on some planes

Similar situations have been seen in the United States. Back in the day, the A320s had 156 seats, but in 2006 the airline decided to eliminate a row of seats. This allowed the airline to cut staffing by one flight attendant, and also allowed it to market itself as offering the most legroom in economy.

JetBlue’s A320s have exactly 150 seats

The pilot scope clause limits how many regional jets can be flying with 66+ seats, and American Eagle ripped seats out of some planes to stay in compliance. The airline has been able to remain in compliance by removing seats from some of the planes.

Bottom line

The seat count on EasyJet's A319s will be reduced from 156 to 150. This will allow the airline to reduce staffing on A319s, as you only need one flight attendant for every 50 seats.

The seating arrangement change is temporary. I wonder if it makes sense to permanently reduce staffing and sell more seats to make up for it. Are flights consistently full?

What do you think about EasyJet eliminating a row of seats?