Hear me out: if the rules for passenger air travel demand the companies fly at partial capacity, the main thing those empty seats are doing is burning more fuel. Present times excluded, fuel costs are one of the major costs for airlines.
In contrast, taking some seats out saves the airlines from carrying dead weight, letting them carry more cargo. It also lets hem sell the new, improved, more civilixe way to fly, with images of coach passengers experiencing actual leg room...
So they trade dead weight for paid weight, while simultaneously seeming to give us what we’ve been asking for Gor decades.
Yes, such a reconfiguration costs money. In the short term. Long term, it could prove to be a competitive advantage.
Especially if the regulation about passenger capacity need to be in place long term.