Is the Golden Age of Economy Flights Over?

With airlines struggling globally while they are hit with massive repercussions due to travel restrictions, perhaps our beloved low-cost airlines are the ones suffering the most.

Millions of people have been able to travel around the world with access to cheaper flight options – also known as economy flights. Complications are now mounting against it.

lot economy class - Travel Radar - Aviation News
Complications are now mounting against the option of economy flights with social distancing marking the end of the low-cost travel era. Source: LOT

Will COVID-19 mark the end of the low-cost travel era? We take a look.

It goes against social distancing

One of the ways that economy flights are able to run is through seats that are smaller in size and packed closer together. This helps put additional seats on the plane and, therefore, more tickets can be offered. The more tickets available for purchase, the cheaper they will be.

how to survive long flights in economy featured - Travel Radar - Aviation News
People cramping together is largely how economy flights run – which is impossible amid social distancing rules. Future flights will be emptier, lonelier, and much more expensive. Source: The Portable Wife

The director-general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Alexandre de Juniac, informed the media that social distancing in aircrafts would mark the end of low-cost travel.

Not only does its cramped layout go against the basic social distancing expectations of today, but if middle seats need to be left empty, that slices profits in half and, therefore, removes the viability of economy tickets.

“It is very clear that if social distancing is imposed inside the aircraft we will need to neutralise a huge proportion of seats, at least a third for short and medium haul aircraft,” de Juniac said. “And so it means that if social distancing is imposed, cheap travel is over. ‘Voila’.”

How much would future ‘economy’ flight tickets cost?

Our airlines can’t fly for free, or at a loss. With the new set-up in place, economy flights will be set up for, not only no profit, but massive loss, to the point of inability to run flights.

“It means two things: either you fly at the same price, selling the ticket at the same average price as before and then you lose an enormous amount of money, so it’s impossible to fly for any airline,” de Juniac continued. “Or you increase the ticket price for a similar product by at least 50 per cent and then you are able to fly with a minimum profit.”

The future of travel is changing drastically, and with it we should prepare ourselves for major differences to what we are accustomed to.

Will you still be able to fly without economy flights? Let us know in the comments below!

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