As the industry continues to experience a pilot shortage, a House subcommittee agreed Wednesday to raise the statutory retirement age for commercial airline pilots from 65 to 67.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee members voted 32-31 to include the amendment in proposed legislation to extend Federal Aviation Administration programs for five years.
“It’s a modest increase, but it gives us some time for long-term solutions to take shape,” said Faye Malarkey Black, president of the Regional Airline Association, which represents smaller carriers that supply big airlines.
By pressing aviators to take buyouts, the group lobbied for the law to stop the loss of pilots as airlines speed up schedules and pilot recruiting after downsizing during the Covid-19 outbreak. Airlines have blamed service cuts on a pilot scarcity, particularly to small towns.
The last time Congress increased the pilot retirement age, it was from 60 to 65 in 2007.
The committee voted 63-0 on the proposed FAA renewal measure on Wednesday, but it now goes to the House floor for a vote. It’s unclear if the new retirement age provision will be included in the final law or get a vote in either chamber.
The plan has been opposed by the Air Line Pilots Association, the country’s largest pilot labor organization, which represents aviators at major airlines such as Delta and United.
“The rash decision to move an amendment on changing the statutory pilot retirement age, without consulting agencies responsible for the safety or studying potential impacts of such a change as has been done elsewhere, is a politically driven choice that betrays a fundamental understanding of airline industry operations, the pilot profession, and safety,” the ALPA said in a statement.