Italian aircraft seat and cabin interior supplier AvioInteriors has released a concept for a new seating solution designed to theoretically allow airlines to fill their middle seats amid Covid-19 concerns. Calling it a “kit-level solution” operators can install on existing seats to make close proximity safer, the company’s Glassafe and Janus products feature transparencies to create an isolated volume around the passenger to avoid or minimize the spread of germs between occupants.
The company can supply a Glassafe retrofit kit in opaque material or with different degrees of transparency. AvioInteriors designed the application with various executions and fixing systems that allow easy installation and removal and to allow for traditional seat-back magazine pockets and tables.
The proposal for the second product, called Janus, features a center seat of a three-abreast layout positioned in the opposite direction, while passengers seated on the side seats, aisle, and fuselage continue to face in the forward direction.
“So Janus is a two-faced seat; in fact, this arrangement allows all three passengers to be separated with a shield made of transparent material that isolates them from each other, creating a protective barrier for everyone,” explains AvioInteriors’ marketing literature. “Each passenger has its own space isolated from others, even from people who walk through the aisle."
As in the Glassafe application, a high shield that prevents breath propagation surrounds each Janus seat. But another advantage of the Janus setup is that the middle seat passenger has unobstructed access to both armrests.
If approved, the AvioInteriors products would allow airlines to generate 33 percent more revenue if regulators call for middle seats to remain empty. In fact, International Air Transport Association director general Alexandre de Juniac this week warned of the likelihood of higher airfares due to the empty middle seat requirement.
“It is clear that if social distancing is imposed inside the aircraft, meaning they neutralize a huge proportion of seats, at least a third for short- and medium-haul aircraft, that means two things,” said de Juniac. “Either you fly at the same price, selling the ticket at the same as the average price as before, and then you lose an enormous amount of money so it is impossible to fly for any airline…or you increase the ticket price by at least 50 percent.”