Sitting comfortably

How is the airport seating sector adapting to life in a pandemic? Industry leaders tell Tara Craig how ‘the new normal’ has affected their priorities, designs and even their long-term plans

Airport seating sees a lot of wear and tear. Hygiene and ease of cleaning have always been key, but their significance has never been greater than now – with airports worldwide grappling with the lasting implications of a highly infectious virus.

The new normal  Manufacturers have been swift to react to the new priorities. “The main concern at the outset of the pandemic was with social distancing and hygiene. All of our seating systems are modular and designed to be reconfigured by in-house maintenance departments,” explained Matt Osborne, managing director of London-based seating specialist OMK.

“Seats were switched out for tables, to create distance between passengers. A cost-effective social distancing strap [see top right] was swiftly developed, too – to give our customers a quick solution that could be easily moved from seat to seat, as needed.”

Switzerland’s Vitra has also long focused on modularity when designing its seating ranges. International key account manager Pascal Berberat told Airports International: “Airports that have chosen Vitra as their furnishing partner and that use products such as Meda Gate or Airline had the capability to implement physical distancing measures even before the current pandemic.

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