Southwest Backs Waivers To Age 60 Rule

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They may be bright orange on the outside but Southwest Airlines apparently likes its Boeing 737s a little gray on the inside. According to Time Magazine, Southwest is poised to become the first major airline to back a bid by a pilots' group to abolish the Age 60 rule. "Times are changing," Southwest spokeswoman Linda Rutherford told Time. "We are losing some really good pilots." Time said Southwest intends to file a "friend of the court brief" in favor of a bid by a group of 12 pilots who have asked the Supreme Court to review their attempt to have waivers to the rule granted. In the past, airlines and pilots' unions have resisted attempts to get rid of the age cap, for their own reasons. For the companies, the rule limited the time pilots stayed at the top of the pay grid and saved them money. For the unions, it meant steady and predictable advancement for younger (and potentially more vocal) members. And for the retiring pilots themselves, the age limit guaranteed a well-funded retirement with, in most cases, plenty of years left to enjoy it. Those cushy retirement packages are now on their way out and many older pilots say they need an extra few years of work to get ready for retirement. Southwest's stance is sure to add weight to an already hefty congressional process to review the Age 60 rule. The House Aviation Subcommittee will hold hearings on the topic and there are bills ready that would push the limit to 65 if passed.