Ryanair CEO calls not booking middle seats 'idiotic,' claims airline 'won't fly' if government imposes rule

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Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has spoken out against leaving the middle seat empty on flights.

The practice, which has been adopted by many other large airlines, like Delta and United, has been implemented as a way to promote social distancing and possibly prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

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However, O’Leary has slammed the move as “kind of an idiotic idea that doesn’t achieve anything anyway,” in an interview with the Financial Times, and claimed Ryanair will not fly if they cannot book their middle seats.

"We can't make money on 66-percent load factors," he said.

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has spoken out against leaving the middle seat empty on flights.

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has spoken out against leaving the middle seat empty on flights. (The Associated Press)

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If the government imposes the rule, O’Leary doubled-down, saying “either the government pays for the middle seat or we won’t fly.”

He defended his dislike of the protocol by saying that leaving the middle seats unused does not adhere to recommendations of leaving 6 feet of distance between people for proper social distancing.

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The Ireland-based budget airline has grounded several flights as the travel industry takes a large hit.

The Ireland-based budget airline has grounded several flights as the travel industry takes a large hit. (iStock)

The Ireland-based budget carrier has grounded several flights as the airline industry takes a large hit due to travel restrictions and shelter-in-place mandates all over the world due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

However, O’Leary said he expects a “relatively quick recovery” for airlines and anticipates 80 percent of flights having resumed by early fall.

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Fox News reached out to Ryanair for additional comment.