Republicans propose raising commercial pilots' mandatory retirement age

A group of Republicans in Congress on Monday proposed legislation to raise the mandatory commercial pilot retirement age to 67 from 65, in a bid to address an airline industry staff shortage.

The proposal, which would require pilots over age 65 to pass a rigorous medical screening every six months, follows complaints of pilot shortages by many regional airlines.

Senator Lindsey Graham said the proposal would help address travel snarls in the United States. Travelers have faced widespread flight delays and cancellations this summer as airlines struggle to cope with rising travel demand with workforces depleted by employee departures during the COVID pandemic.

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The Regional Airline Association praised the legislation, saying a pilot shortage has resulted in 500 aircraft "parked and 315 communities losing air service. Raising the mandatory pilot retirement age is part of the solution to a critical issue with rippling effects."

Airlines for America, an industry group representing major carriers including American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines, declined to say if it supports raising the pilot retirement age.


Graham noted that in 2007 the United States raised the mandatory retirement age from 60 to 65, and "the sky did not fall."

Even if the proposal is approved, the union said pilots older than 65 would still not be able to fly in most countries outside the United States because of international rules.

Republican Senators John Thune, Deb Fischer, Chuck Grassley, Cynthia Lummis and Marsha Blackburn are co-sponsors of the proposal, while a group of House Republicans led by Representative Chip Roy proposed parallel legislation.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has not come out in favor of the hike in pilots' retirement age, and he told Fox News earlier this month that the regulation is in place "for safety reasons. I haven't seen any piece of information or data that would suggest that the reasoning has changed."

Source: Reuters

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