EasyJet Removing Seats From Planes Due To Staff Shortage

EasyJet Removing Seats From Planes Due To Staff Shortage

14

Many airlines across the globe are dealing with staff shortages at the moment. European ultra low cost carrier EasyJet is dealing with this in an unconventional way… by removing seats from planes.

EasyJet removing one row of seats from A319 fleet

EasyJet is currently in the process of temporarily removing one row of seats from its Airbus A319 fleet. The airline has roughly 87 Airbus A319s, making up nearly one-third of the carrier’s fleet (which consists exclusively of Airbus narrow body jets). It’s expected that this row of seats will be removed from the aircraft through at least the winter.

Why is EasyJet removing a row of seats from planes, and what does that have to do with staffing issues? Well, generally speaking there needs to be at least one flight attendant for every 50 seats on a plane. It doesn’t matter how many seats are actually occupied, just how many seats there are.

EasyJet has 156 seats on its A319s, meaning that four flight attendants are required. By removing one row of seats, the A319 has exactly 150 seats, meaning that only three flight attendants are required. So by eliminating one row of seats, the airline can reduce flight attendant staffing on this plane by 25%.

The economics of this are fascinating

When deciding layouts, the one flight attendant per 50 passenger rule is something that’s pretty consistently considered, given the implications. In EasyJet’s 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

We’ve seen similar situations in the United States. For example, back in the day JetBlue’s 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 JetBlue to market itself as offering the most legroom in economy in the United States. In the meantime, the airline has started re-reconfiguring these planes, as they now feature 162 seats.

JetBlue’s A320s have 150-162 seats

Similarly, American Eagle (American Airlines’ regional subsidiary) has ripped seats out of some planes purely to remain in compliance with the pilot scope clause, which limits how many regional jets can be flying with 66+ seats. American has removed seats from some of these planes so that there are fewer than 66 seats, allowing the airline to remain in compliance.

Bottom line

EasyJet will be removing a row of seats from its Airbus A319s, reducing the seat count from 156 seats to 150 seats. This is intended to allow the airline to reduce staffing on A319s, as you only need one flight attendant for every 50 seats.

For now this seating arrangement change is temporary. I can’t help but wonder in the long run if it doesn’t just make more sense to permanently reduce staffing, and sell some more seats as offering extra legroom. After all, are flights actually consistently 96%+ full?

What do you make of EasyJet eliminating a row of seats on A319s?

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  1. Bob Guest

    Can some provide more information on this statement:

    the pilot scope clause, which limits how many regional jets can be flying with 66+ seats.

  2. Sam G Guest

    There are a few reasons why Easyjet staffs with 4 crew normally

    - can sometimes sell the 6 seats - these last seats would go for high $$ and cover FA pay on multiple flights
    - up until recently they operated A320 and A319. Having all flights crewed with 4 x FA meant that it was very simple to swap between A319 and A320, either in response to demand (especially at a big...

    There are a few reasons why Easyjet staffs with 4 crew normally

    - can sometimes sell the 6 seats - these last seats would go for high $$ and cover FA pay on multiple flights
    - up until recently they operated A320 and A319. Having all flights crewed with 4 x FA meant that it was very simple to swap between A319 and A320, either in response to demand (especially at a big base like Gatwick) or at the last minute without a crew headache. A little different now they're operating some A321s, but still overall it keeps things as simple as possible. I suspect this is potentially why it's only the UK A319s, the Europe flights are sometimes relatively complicated "W" / triangle routings / downroute swaps and if there are aircraft swaps downroute it'd be quite a big problem if only 3 crew turn up to take over an A320!
    - they can run 2 x trollies with 2 crew each. This allows more inflight sales to be completed on a busy flight. Things like hot items, hot water refills etc need to be collected from the galley. I suspect they'll only be able to have 1 trolley out on these flights as I'm not sure they'll be able to have a single crew running a trolley and leave it unattended. Perhaps the FA at the rear will do some service by hand.

    I do believe though that originally they thought the CAA would give them an exemption to run the A319 with 156 seats but this didn't happen

  3. GBOAC Diamond

    Some of us west coast old-timers remember when AirCal reduced the number of seats on its 737-200s assigned to the SFO-LAX shuttle to 100 seats to reduce the number of FAs to 2. They then marketed the increased space as executive shuttle.

  4. AJ Guest

    Most of JetBlue’s A320s have been
    re-configured to 162 seats.

  5. Syd Guest

    Agree with Ben, pretty weird setup to begin with. Are they really at 98%-100% load that often to justify an extra attendant and extra weight vs. permanently having slightly less seats but with one less attendant, less weight and potentially "premium" revenue for extra space?

    1. Hwong Kim Guest

      Thanks for restating exactly what the post said

    2. Syd Guest

      lmao, question meant to get input from somebody more knowledgeable on the subject (of which there are plenty here). get a life, or a dog.

  6. dna Guest

    which law requires 1 FA per 50pax?

    1. Anonymous Guest

      Unsure if similar exists elsewhere, but it's an EU Regulation, more specifically EU Commission Regulation No 965/2012.

      "
      Subpart CC

      Section 1:

      ORO.CC.100 Number and composition of cabin crew

      (a) The number and composition of cabin crew shall be determined in accordance with 7.a of Annex IV to Regulation (EC) No 216/2008, taking into account operational factors or circumstances of the particular flight to be operated. At least one cabin crew member shall be...

      Unsure if similar exists elsewhere, but it's an EU Regulation, more specifically EU Commission Regulation No 965/2012.

      "
      Subpart CC

      Section 1:

      ORO.CC.100 Number and composition of cabin crew

      (a) The number and composition of cabin crew shall be determined in accordance with 7.a of Annex IV to Regulation (EC) No 216/2008, taking into account operational factors or circumstances of the particular flight to be operated. At least one cabin crew member shall be assigned for the operation of aircraft with an MOPSC of more than 19 when carrying one or more passenger(s).

      (b) For the purpose of complying with (a), the minimum number of cabin crew shall be the greater of the following:

      (...)

      (3) one cabin crew member for every 50, or fraction of 50, passenger seats installed on the same deck of the aircraft to be operated.
      "

    2. Scudder Diamond

      It's in the FAA's FARs, Part 121, too. (And maybe/probably part 135?)

  7. Daniel Guest

    I'm surprised they removed the last row and not some row in the middle that would immediately allow them to sell the row behind as "super-legroom" row.

    1. ro Guest

      Logistics. easy to remove and reinstall without damaging internals.

    2. John T Guest

      Exactly. Remove row 6 and then sell shift the first five rows and sell them as 'extra legroom seats'

    3. dollar New Member

      Or remove 6 middle seats in the front of the aircraft and sell seats in those rows as 'business class'.

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The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Hwong Kim Guest

Thanks for restating exactly what the post said

1
John T Guest

Exactly. Remove row 6 and then sell shift the first five rows and sell them as 'extra legroom seats'

1
ro Guest

Logistics. easy to remove and reinstall without damaging internals.

1
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