EasyJet to remove row of seats so it can fly with fewer crew

EasyJet plans to remove seats in some of its planes this summer as part of a strategy to cut the number of staff it needs.

Employers across the economy have complained of difficulty recruiting staff at the salaries they are willing to pay, and airlines are struggling to meet the increased demand as international travel restarts in earnest after Covid-19 lockdowns.

Airlines are required by law to provide one member of cabin crew for every 50 seats. By removing the final row of six seats on its smallest plane, the A319, easyJet will cut the number of passengers it can carry from 156 to 150, therefore limiting its requirement to three rather than four cabin crew.

Airport and airline bosses are looking to hire thousands of staff to cope with what is expected to be a summer holiday boom, as many international destinations reopen to tourists from countries including the UK. The UK government removed restrictions on international travel in January.

Johan Lundgren, the easyJet chief executive, has previously said the company expects to reach near 2019 levels of passenger numbers this summer, despite recent problems with getting security clearance for new recruits.

EasyJet was already forced to cancel hundreds of flights over the Easter holiday period, which it blamed on staff sickness during a wave of Covid-19 infections in the UK.