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Pilot unions oppose rising pilot retirement age to 67

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The latest measure that would raise the minimum pilot age from 65 to 67 was met with criticism from a number of pilot unions based in the United States (US).

Texas Republican Troy Nehls offered an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Bill, which was put to a vote by the Transport & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee of the US House of Representatives. On June 14, 2023, T&I adopted the legislation, and on June 12, 2023, Nehls proposed an amendment.

In his amendment, the Republican legislator proposed amending Section 44729 of Title 49 of the US Code by striking out 65 and substituting 67, effectively raising the US’s required retirement age for pilots to 67.

The Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), a union that represents pilots at several airlines, including Air Canada, JetBlue, Alaska Airlines, Breeze Airways, Delta Air Lines, Spirit Airlines, and United Airlines, has responded to the amendments by starting a petition that calls on its members to oppose the legislation.

“[…] Airlines’ executives are pushing a false narrative about pilot availability—and saying they can fix their invented “problem” if the mandatory retirement age for U.S. airline pilots is raised above age 65,” read the petition text, continuing that the changes would result in younger pilots being displaced. In addition, it would “introduce risk into the aviation system, increase air carrier training costs and further complicate the pilot training backlog”.

“ALPA strongly opposes this effort, as reiterated by the Board of Directors’ adoption of unequivocal policy on the matter in 2022,” added the union.

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