WestJet and Air Canada have announced on Friday that they will be lifting policies that restrict the sale of seats for physical distancing as of July 1, 2020.
The move comes as Provincial governments across Canada lift travel restrictions and domestic air travel begins to pick up.
WestJet and Air Canada say this decision aligns with recommendations such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA)’s guidance supporting the removal of seat distancing.
The IATA has repeatedly stressed its opposition to restrictions on the sale of seats. In a release from May 5, the organization said “IATA does not support mandating social distancing measures that would leave ‘middle seats’ empty.”
They instead suggested measures such as mandatory face masks for crew and passengers and deeper cabin cleanings.
The IATA also recently restated its opposition to countries implementing quarantine measures for newly arrived air travellers.
In a statement on Wednesday, IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said “Imposing quarantine measures on arriving travelers keeps countries in isolation and the travel and tourism sector in lockdown.”
De Juniac and the IATA proposed alternatives such as discouraging symptomatic passengers from traveling and COVID-19 testing for travelers from “high-risk” countries.
WestJet says that “safety is at the forefront of every decision we make and as our industry adapts to a new normal, we will continue to adjust our health measures to ensure the safest travel experience.”
In an email, Air Canada said that “we intend to continue evaluating new processes and technologies as they become available to further enhance safety.”