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Pilots Welcome Reinstatement Of The 'Middle Seat' On Domestic Flights; Continued Use Of Masks

14 September 2020

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association (NZALPA) has welcomed the Government announcement this afternoon to ease social distancing restrictions on transport and reinstate the middle seat on domestic airline flights. 

“Following on from our advocacy for the compulsory use of masks on all flights,” said NZALPA President Captain Andrew Ridling, “we are pleased that the Ministry of Health and Cabinet has listened to expert advice and eased the physical distancing restrictions on New Zealand airlines.”


“This effectively reinstates the middle seat for use and this will now increase travel availability, helping get more domestic flights back into the air, and supporting both the travel and tourism sector’s economic recovery.”


“It’s a well-known fact that filtered air on board aircraft is safer than even the air in hospital operating theatres.  This means the risk of transmission of Covid-19 through cabin air is very low.


“We still of course support the compulsory use of face masks and other antibacterial measures that add extra protection and assurance for both passengers and air crew.


“The announcement today also makes New Zealand more consistent with the recommendations from the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the International Air Travel Association (IATA) and the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA).  Already followed by most international airlines, these recommendations were developed to protect passengers and help restart the global air transport system.


“As we said over five months ago, masks and anti-bacterial efforts are much more effective than removing access to aircraft cabins’ middle seats.  This reinstatement of the use of those seats will now help curb any dramatic cost increases to air travel, prevent seats going empty and help cushion COVID-19’s blow to the industry, jobs and our economy,” Captain Ridling said. 


Media contact:  Lisa-Marie Richan 027 278 0441

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